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Recycling and Upcycling Denim Jeans

A New Life for Old Jeans

When you have found yourself a great pair of jeans they inevitably become favourite friends that you simply do not want to be without. They are what you turn to again and again because you know that you look good in them and you trust them not to let you down. You may even find that you have invested a great deal of time in creating the wear patterns that make those jeans uniquely yours. Sadly, though, however well you care for your jeans, persistent wear will eventually lead to their demise, at least as jeans. This should not mean that they take a walk in the direction of your bin.

The Story of the Blues

No matter how much you love your denim it is hard to escape from the fact that both denim production and denim waste can be harmful to the environment. Cotton cultivation requires immense volumes of water and the pesticides used in cotton farming contain hazardous chemicals. The synthetic indigo dyes which colour denim also leach into the water table disrupting the eco systems in the areas around factories. Meanwhile, denim that is simply thrown away will end up in landfill and whilst it will eventually degrade, this is a terrible waste of viable fibres. If the popularity of denim has such a huge effect on our planet and its resources then it really makes sense to prolong its useful life as long as possible and you have several options at your disposal.


You may have grown tired of a pair of jeans or they may have reached the point of no return as a fashion statement but that doesn't mean that someone else couldn't benefit from them or that the fibres are of no use. If you really have come to the end of your relationship with your jeans then donate them to charity or take them to your local recycling centre. Charities will re-sell your jeans in order to raise valuable funds or ship them to the poorest regions of the world where the people are in desperate need of clothing. Denim sent for recycling is broken down to be used for a variety of purposes including the fashioning of new garments (sometimes jeans) and the upholstering of furniture. Recycled denim reduces the volume of new cotton that must be grown and so also reduces the volume of water and pesticides used in agriculture.


Of course if you don't want to recycle your jeans there are some alternative plans of action. These do require an interest in crafting and perhaps a little design inspiration! You can use the undamaged portions of jeans to fashion completely new items with a funky and contemporary twist.

Denim lends itself well to accessories for the home. Quilts, rugs, placemats, table runners and draught excluders are all possible options if you use large areas of fabric or create patchwork from one or more pairs. You can use the pockets, rivets and other additional features of your jeans to create embellishments and quirky features for your creations.

If you don't fancy the homewares idea then you can always turn your jeans into pair of shorts, use the fabric to patch other garments, create toys for your pets or even make a handbag. You will find plenty of design inspiration online to help you with your plans. In the meantime here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

What you do It is up to you but you certainly don't have to give up on those favourite jeans even if your knees are hanging out of them and you have taken the distressed look to a whole new level!

We are sure that you will find plenty to please in the Jean Store collection and hopefully that will include the jeans that will become your favourite pair. Do get in touch to tell us about the new life that you have created for your denim!