In 2014 more than 16 million tons of textile waste was generated with approximately 10.46 million tons going into the landfill.[1] Textile waste is material that the owner feels can be no longer be used for its original purpose, and includes, but is not limited to clothing.[2]

SMART Infograph Textile Recycling.jpg
Source: Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles

When cleaning out your closets think about greener ways to satisfy your “urge to purge.” In addition to donating items to a local thrift shop, old clothing can transformed into gifts.

Why Donate When You Can Create!

Turning your old clothing into thoughtful, handcrafted gifts:

  • keeps waste out of our landfills;
  • reduces the amount of resources needed to manufacture new products;
  • helps save you money; [3] and
  • allows you to give a personal, meaningful gift.[4]

Below you will find ideas on how you can upcycle jeans and t-shirts into gifts worth giving.


Give Denim a Do Over

Jeans are great material to craft with because it has been worn down, making it easy to manipulate, while still being durable.


The pant legs can be upcycled into wine bags, a draw string backpack, small baskets, and a lunch bag, while pockets can be used to create a wall organizer, placemats and coasters.

Gifts that require no sewing machine include a wreath, flowers, a covered pencil can, a corner book mark, and a “pocket” purse.

You can easily create “fabric with a pattern” by dipping it in bleach and then drawing on it with permanent marker or drawing on it with a bleach pen.

Save a Shirt, Make a Gift


An old t-shirt can be made into a variety of gifts such as accessories. Some simple, easy to make gifts include scarves, a twisted headband, a macramé knotted headband,  and bracelets.

They can also be repurposed into new sew, comfy items like a pillow and a blanket.

T-shirt yarn can be used to create a plant hanger, braided rug, baskets and coasters. Many of these gifts can be made using jean yarn.

Our blog from this past spring has other ideas on how you can upcycle a variety of items into gifts.

For other tips on how you can have a greener holiday, please see our previous blogs using the links below:

·      Green Gift Giving, Part 1: The Art of Regifting

·      Green Gift Giving, Part 2: Giving Local and DIY Gifts

·      Going Green: Alternative Gift Wrapping

·      Being “Ever Green” During the Holiday Season


[1] Textile Recycling Facts and Figures
[2] The Ecochic Design Award Sourcing Textile Waste
[3] Donate and Buy Used Items
[4] 100 Great Ideas for Inexpensive Homemade Gifts