It is possible to create great new fashions by using old clothing. In doing so, the process of recycling clothes can be expanded from traditional methods like taking items down to the charity shop, and can be used to enhance global efforts to create a more ethical and environmentally friendly approach to fashion. Environmental benefits range from cutting down on the use of synthetic materials, and reducing the amount of harmful emissions caused by the destruction of old clothes, and the refining of plastics to make new clothing items. Moreover, by recycling clothes, problems like slave labour and animal exploitation can be approached through more balanced and ethical solutions. Some of the ways in which new fashion can be created from old clothing are expanded on below:
1 – Traditional Methods
Traditional methods are still very effective at reducing the amount of waste involved in throwing away clothes. Old clothes can be taken to charity shops, where they can either be resold directly, or given to charities to be used in the Third World as part of clothing banks. Vintage clothes swaps and baby clothes exchanges can also help to reduce a carbon footprint and get into positive habits for the environment.
2 – Recycling Programs
There are a number of different recycling programs around the world that commit to making the most of old clothes in order to cut down on manufacturing. For example, the Common Threads program in Patagonia sends old clothes to Japan for compaction and recycling into raw materials that can then be used to manufacture new items for a fraction of the cost and the emissions.
3 – Upcycled Clothing
Upcycling involves making the most of old clothes and items around the house to make new outfits and fashion items. T Shirts are particularly easy to make, and can build from old pillows and long dresses, or can be put together using old fabric. Denim bags can similarly be created from old jeans, while children can benefit from old shirts and pillowcases, which can be recut into simple clothes that are ideal for younger children.
4 – T Shirt Reconstruction
There are many ways in which T Shirts can be broken down and reconstruction to make new outfits. From simply cutting off sleeves to make sleeveless tops, through to more dramatic cuts to make off the shoulder items, old T shirts provide an easy way in which to remake worn out clothes into fashionable new items.
5 – Restyling Sweatshirts
The same approach can be taken to sweatshirts and hoodies, which can be adapted to form comfortable dresses, or chopped up to create baby and child toys. The large amounts of fabric used in these clothes is also useful for adding layers to other recycled outfits.
6 – Child and Baby Clothing
It’s straightforward to make the most of old clothes for your children, with multiple items being salvageable. Focus on adding and lengthening old baby clothes, or converting your old T shirts into dresses. Most household fabrics can be adapted in this for younger children, and can be a good short term fix instead of buying new items.
7 – Pillowcases
Old pillowcases that are still in good condition can often act as the material for recycled clothes. Pillowcases can be cut into aprons, or can be carefully cut to form dresses for very young children.
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