What to do with Old Jeans? Read for Recycling Jeans Ideas!

What should you do with old jeans

Need sustainable fashion ideas? Recycle your jeans.

I had dinner a few weeks ago when my friend asked me what he should do with his old jeans, approximately 20 pairs. Seems simple enough… but I couldn’t really articulate a good answer. Now some of that depended on what he wanted to do. Did he want to find an alternative to just throwing them away, donate them, consign them or did he just want to know if there were more options? So I set out to find some recycling jeans ideas and more ideas on sustainable fashion!

Here are some recycling jeans ideas and options:

  • Do not throw them away. This is the first and easiest step! Of the millions of pounds of textile waste generated in the U.S., we recycle a small fraction of it.
  • Donate your jeans- this is another easy option. Find a charity thrift store whose mission resonates with you and take them there to be sold. Check out these websites to locate one near you thrift shopper or thrift store listings.

Consign your jeans

  1. For ladies- jeans must be lightly worn or new, in very good condition, and depending on the store, a particular brand. Every consignment store is different. Check their websites or call them ahead of time to confirm they will accept the brands you have so that you won’t waste a trip. Some of them list the brands they accept on their website. Check out my Sustainable Style Resources to find a consignment store or thrift store (online and in your area)
  2. For men –  in addition to online consignment stores, there are now 3 consignment stores in the Phoenix area. Check out my Sustainable Style Resources to find a consignment store or thrift store (online and in your area)
  3. For both men and women- thredUP (online consignment store) offers a “clean out kit” which you can fill up with your items and send back to them. The items they can sell will earn you money and the ones that they don’t resell they pass on to other sellers or textile recyclers. One distinction I do like about thredUP is that they have a mission to keep garments out of the landfills.

Make your old jeans new again…

  • If you like your jeans but want to update them to get out of a style rut, check out this option – Tatter Patch. I love the tagline “repair, restyle revive” – words to live by! Also, this is a local Phoenix business!
  • Recycle jeans into insulation –  this program collects denim across the country and upcycles it into denim insulation. They provide a portion to communities in need each year. You can go to the website to find when they will have “drives” at stores or you can request a mailing label to send the jeans to them.
    • If you live near a Madewell Store, they will not only take your jeans for this program but they will also give you $20 off a pair purchased in their stores.

Consider Textile recycling

  • Phoenix metro area: Phoenix Fibers is one of only a few textile fiber converter in the Southwestern United States.  For more information on how you can donate your used denim or to learn more on how to start a recycling campaign check this out.
  • Arizona and beyond: American Textile Recycling has placed donation bins for gently used, unwanted clothing, shoes, toys and household items; information on Arizona is here.  To find one near you, check out this page and follow the link “Find a donation bin here;” to learn more check out the FAQ page.

Consider a project

  • If you are the DIY/Pinterest type, I encourage you to do an internet search for: “what do to do with old jeans” or similar. The options are endless.

In the future…

One day it will be possible to create new garments from recycled cotton waste on a much larger scale than is currently being done, check it out.

Note: Please know that I am not working with any of these companies or stores and was not asked to endorse or mention any of the products in this post.  All opinions here are my own.

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