Live Green and Earn Points


Because You Asked

How Can I Recycle Denim?

By Recyclebank |

You can’t put denim with your curbside recycling, but there are plenty of companies that are happy to take your old jeans and give them new life.

Updated On 11/14/2018 | Originally Published On 03/28/2017

Dear Recyclebank: How can I recycle my old blue jeans? –Lauren C.

Dear Lauren: There’s nothing like a perfectly worn pair of jeans … that is, until it gets an un-patchable hole in an awkward spot! While fabric isn’t accepted in curbside recycling containers, the good news is there are plenty of ways to recycle and upcycle your old denim. And being that denim production is a heavy-impact process, it really pays to recycle it.

The most well-known option, of course, is to sell or donate wearable jeans to your nearest thrift store, where your jeans can go on living in someone else’s closet. But if your jeans are ripped or stained beyond repair, don’t try to donate them where they’ll likely just be thrown in the trash.

Instead, find a facility that accepts textiles for recycling. One specifically for denim is Blue Jeans Go Green, which partners with retailers throughout the year to put on denim-reclamation events (often donating your jeans will net you a shopping coupon). They also accept denim donations by mail (shipping is at your expense). The denim is turned into insulation, which is then donated to Habitat for Humanity-affiliated projects as well as civic-building projects. The organization estimates it has diverted more than 1 million pieces of denim clothing away from landfills.

Another easy option for denim recycling is through one of the biggest manufacturer’s of denim — Levi Strauss and Company. You can now drop off your unwanted denim, and any other clothing and shoes, to any Levi’s store. Levi’s partners with I:CO, which specializes in clothing reuse and recycling, to ensure that the textiles stay out of landfills.

There are many other interesting textiles and denim-recycling programs, such as the recycling program of Nudie Jeans, which turns old denim into new objects, from rag rugs to stylish hats. And the Denim Project upcycles denim into new goods (like aprons and woven baskets) while creating jobs and empowering women, although they currently aren’t accepting jeans because they’ve received so many donations already. However, you can take a page out of their book and keep your old denim to use as material for your own cool craft projects. There are so many fun upcycling projects to do with denim; your favorite pair of jeans could soon become a cute headband, a hip bag, or a charming patchwork rug!



How do you repurpose or recycle old jeans? Share your suggestions in the comments below. 

Share with Your Friends & Family
  • donna k. 11 months ago
    I make small purses for the granddaughters or larger purses for the older kids. Just cut off the pant legs. sew a seam across the bottom of the fabric and decorate with fringe or any fancy material. Make handles for over the shoulder, with more denim pieces or buy heavy ribbon, etc. . For the little purses cut 2 pieces of denim, sew together leaving top open and attach any fancy rope for the handle
  • Lynne H. 2 years ago
    Please do NOT throw away your mascara wands. Instead, clean JUST THE WAND with dawn soap, place them in a ziploc bag and mail them to a Wildlife Refuge accepting donations. These little wands are able to be upcycled to clean away oil, larvae, fly eggs, mites, infections, mud and other contaminants from wildlife. Works great for medical care and wound treatment

    Pick your refuge to mail to:

    Appalachian Wild
    P.O. Box 1211
    Skyland NC 28776


    Wildlife Wands
    P.O. Box 1586
    Southwick, MA 01077.
  • Amani S. 2 years ago
    I bring mine to H&M, but main jean store accept old jeans.
    Is one of the programs. It has a list of stores that accepts to be turned into insulation and you get something off on your next purchase.
  • Sonia S. 3 years ago
    take used/unwanted clothes to H&M, they will recycle them properly and also give you 15% off on your next purchase.
  • Melissa N. 3 years ago
    Old jeans make wonderful quilts. I have made a patchwork (even included the pockets on some squares) and a frayed edge blanket. I wanted to do a rag rug but haven't yet.
  • View More