Welcome to GreenItUp, a database of common items, and how to reduce, reuse, and recycle them.

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Denim

Includes denim jeans.

Since denim clothing is pretty durable, most likely the items still have life in them and can still be used by you or someone else. Otherwise, most reuses are craft ideas (although practical, too) and require sewing skills. Worst case, donating jeans regardless of condition still stands a good chance of them being recycled.

There are many more things you can make besides what is listed here, but many of them are just variations and you can find instructions by doing a simple Google search, or by applying your own creativity if you are artistically inclined.


Do you really need a new pair of jeans? C’mon. Really? …


If they’re too worn out (in an embarrassing way, not a fashionable way), keep a pair or two around for dirty jobs like painting, gardening, mechanic work, house work, or cleaning. These tasks are often found in community service, so these pants would be your “volunteer pants” :o P :o ).

Hand-me-downs. If they’re in an acceptable condition, give them to someone else who they fit and might want them.

Donate them to a thrift store. This may still be beneficial if the items aren’t in “sell-able” condition. (See note in the Recycle section.)

Make a pocket magnet to hold notes ‘n crap on your fridge.

If you can and are willing to sew…


Ask your local thrift shop what they do with unsold clothing. Many stores sell the stuff to fabric recyclers, so the stores still benefit. It varies from store to store, so be sure to ask your local store whether it’s worth their trouble to accept clothing that doesn’t stand a good chance of being sold (from excessive wear, stains, plain fugliness, etc.). For example, when asked via e-mail if reselling unsold fabric to recyclers is something commonly done by Goodwill branches, a customer service representative replied “Because each of our 207 member organizations operates independently based on the needs of the communities it serves, programs and services vary from location to location.”

Other Links

  • 12 Lessons on Recycling Denim – Twelve “lessons” from Washington State University Extension for a youth development program, mostly projects for reusing denim like those listed above, but also includes a couple “lessons” on evaluating and extending the life of those jeans. All lessons are PDF files.

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1 Comment »

  1. nate said,

    October 9, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

    i am fascinated with your sewing ideas. i would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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