Fun with recycling: denim

Ever wonder what to do with that old pair of jeans?

Well, with the advent of recycling we have plenty of options!

Instead of adding to the 68 pounds of trashed textiles each year (as indicated by the NRDC: Natural Resources Defense Council), we can take advantage of the 3 R’s: renew, reuse, and recycle!

1.) What are some of the benefits of recycling our denim?  Well, besides keeping it out of landfills, this fiber has some wonderful properties that lend themselves perfectly for reconstitution into other things, such as insulation or automotive upholstery.

You can check out this cool movie on how old jeans are cut apart and reconstituted into new fibers called: Tearing it apart to get it together, put on by one vendor (Nudiejeans) who is making significant headway on making new jeans our of old jeans:

Watch Post Recycle Dry – The Movie: – Cached

  1. Tearing it apart to get it together. Old worn out jeans are cut into pieces and put together into a new fabric. Old worn-out jeans are cut into pieces …

<img src=”/media/cache/e8/70/e870f08e0aa109906b5376960fb61acc.jpg” width=”693″ height=”462″>

According to the vendor Nudiejeans, cotton fibres actually last much longer than we normally tend to use, or wear them. In 2007, Nudie Jeans started the Recycle Denim Maniacs programme, in which a number of textile students were chosen to create new designs out of old, worn-out jeans.

As an extension of this idea, together with ISKO(tm) they recycle old worn-out jeans in order to manufacture new denim. The garments are cut into pieces, and then milled down to a cotton-like pulp, which in turn becomes new yarn, used for new fabrics. Because, as you texile buffs know, the fibres of pure recycled yarn are very short, therefore virgin organic cotton is blended in order to get a durable fabric.

Makes me want to go check out the SKU at Barney’s (the US’s exclusive retailer for this maker- for their Slim Jim offerring)

Option 2.)

Of course, you can donate to your local charity where I live, such as Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. Here in Richardson, we are blessed that organizations such as the National Federation for the Blind call once a month to see if we have anything to donate. And, with kids, it’s easy to go throw clothes they grow so quickly!

In fact, in their article Back to School Shopping with Retex Northwest, recycling vendor Retex states that only 53% of parents have their children wear old clothes from year to year, with only 14% of those textiles being recycled. ttp://

But we have options! Cotton may be made into rags or form a component for new quality paper. Knitted or woven woolens and similar materials are “pulled” into a fibrous state for reuse by the textile industry. Other types of fabric can be reprocessed into fibers for upholstery, insulation, and even building materials.

In the recycling process that Retex uses,buttons and zippers are stripped off for reuse. Very little is left over at the end of the process. The remaining natural materials are “composed,” leaving less than 5% of the total collected as solid waste. Recycling clothing helps our communities by reducing the size of landfills and it helps the global community by providing clothing and jobs in disadvantaged regions of the world.

Retex partners with local businesses to provide stations for recycling garments– not just for resale back to used clothing shops, but using those good for two purposes:

a.)wearable clothes go to impoverished countries that need affordable clothing

b.) nonwearable items are turned into industrial rags, or recycled new fiber for a multitude of items, such as stuffing automotive seats, or new fabric in other consumer goods.

Just imagine your old jeans as a beautiful eco alternative to insulation:

Check it out: In partnership with Levis Straus, Bonded Logic’s UltraTouch Natural Fiber Insulation is made from 85% post-industrial cotton fiber. That means they aren’t digging your old jeans out of the landfill; instead, they’re taking scraps from the manufacturer. Post-consumer might get more eco-points, and the insulation is treated with a fire retardant (albeit a “natural” one), but it’s 100% recyclable, VOC-free, and formaldehyde-free. Never mind that it won’t itch like fiberglass insulation. It’s a great way to get some extra LEED points if you’re not in a position to go whole-hog with an unconventional design like a straw-bale structure. Find a distributor here. Via HGTV ::Bonded Logic [by KK]

There are plenty of opportunites to get creative, as well, which might draw out the designer in you:

Check out these design think tanks, such as:

RE-think + RE-cycle
name of design : the metamorphosis of old jeans design by : yao xie from china

Or you can do the DIY method, and reference any number of the

Twenty-five Things to Do With Old Jeans

        by Myscha Theriaulton 24 September 2007

20+ Crafty Things To Make With Old Jeans,


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