10 Unexpected Ways Your Old Clothing is Repurposed

Have you ever looked at an old grungy sweater or pair of jeans and thought, "there's no way this can be donated?" Many people are discouraged from giving their worn items to charities, but almost everything in our closets, even the most "loved" items, can be resold or recycled. In fact, you are likely using repurposed incarnations of your old duds on a daily basis!

Believe it or not, old clothes and shoes can be repurposed into…

1. Sports Fields and Athletic Tracks

The rubber sole from your favorite pair of sneakers can be ground up and repurposed into the material needed for synthetic sports fields.

2. Pillow Stuffing

Your old clothes could be helping you get a good night's rest. Used fabrics can be reprocessed into fibers that make for great pillow stuffing.

3. Carpet Padding

Your mother may have insisted you pick your clothes up off the floor, but did you know that the floor may actually be made up of your clothes? Sounds trippy, but it's true. Coats and sweaters can be reprocessed back into fibers that serve as the padding in your carpet.

4. Wiping Cloths

More than half of worn-down clothing, towels, sheets, and other textiles that charities collect is repurposed into wiping rags.

5. Baseball and softball filling

America's pastime meets America's used clothes. An old wool sweater can be repurposed into filling for baseballs and softballs.

6. Jewelry Box Lining

Velvet may no longer be in style, but it can still be useful! Repurposed velvet is a great option for jewelry box lining.

7. Paper Money

Did you know that our "paper" money is actually made from cotton and linen fibers? Your old t-shirt that only cost a couple of dollars could be reborn into a crisp one hundred dollar bill!

8. Home Insulation

A good pair of jeans is arguably the most important staple item in your wardrobe, and it can serve a purpose even when it's past the point of being wearable. Broken down denim can be converted as insulation for your home to keep you warm on a cold winter's night.

9. Fuel bricks

Want another way for your old clothes to keep you warm? Set them on fire! No seriously, clothes that are doomed to the landfill are collected and packed into fuel bricks in some parts of Europe.

10. New clothing items

A little ingenuity and technical skill can go a long way in repurposing old garments. It's really quite impressive how old clothes are transformed into new ones, especially in developing counties.

In Kenya, large pieces of imperfect clothing are cut to make baby clothes. Some men in Tanzania use damaged leather bags to make shoes. It's common in Eastern Africa to find seamstresses who work primarily with trashed clothing, either repairing it or make entirely new garments.

Bottom line, there is no reason to throw away your clothes when there are so many ways to repurpose them. Give them a chance at a second life by dropping a bag in yellow Planet Aid bin or with another charity that collects used clothing.


Learn more about why recycling clothes is good for the environment, and what happens to your clothes after they're donated.