Live Green and Earn Points


Reuse old sweaters

By Recyclebank |
You may be vexed that your favorite sweater is frayed beyond repair, but you needn't be. With needle, thread, and the remnants of an old sweater you can create items like blankets and, yes, new sweaters.

How to reuse old sweaters

Get crafty!

All you need is needle, thread and a bit of imagination to get started on transforming that sweater into the tote bag or wine cozy of your dreams. The Internet is a stellar resource for DIYers who would rather craft a cat bed, for example, from recycled materials than buy a new one. The websites stitch marker, ThreadBanger, Craftster, and stitch lounge, are four notable sources for eco-inspiration.

Those with green thumbs can tear any leftover wool or cotton scraps from "Project Old Sweater" into strips and add 'em to your compost pile. The same goes for old t-shirts, bedding, and any other unwanted textiles.

Want to sell your handiwork? Try peddling it onEtsy, a virtual marketplace for anything handmade.

Let someone else do the reusing

Another option is to leave the work to the fashion wizards at design firms like Mod to Modern and `e ko logic that craft style-forward garments from the remnants of last season's wardrobe.

Alternatively, check out a local Swap-O-Rama-Rama event. These are clothing swaps/sewing workshops where participants contribute and then exchange used or unworn and unwanted clothing items before embroidering/altering/customizing/repairing their new finds at on-site sewing stations.

Find it! Clothing and home-goods made from recycled sweaters

Reusing old sweaters helps you go green because…

  • It's a creative, crafty way for sewing and fashion enthusiasts — both newbies and seasoned experts — to recycle materials that might otherwise find their final resting place in a local landfill.
  • The creation of a sweater involves plant- and animal-derived materials like cotton or wool that pose environmental risks through their harvesting and manufacture. Great amounts of energy, land, toxic chemicals, and water are just some of the natural and unnatural resources saved when opting to reuse an old sweater.
An estimated 10.6 million tons of textiles were generated in 2003, with the average American discarding about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year — 85 percent of which ends up in landfills.[1] Sweaters are typically made from sheep's wool and/or cotton, although other fibers, both natural and synthetic, can be used. While only 2.4 percent of farmland worldwide is dedicated to cotton, it accounts for 24 percent of global insecticide sales and 11 percent of global pesticide sales.[2] In total, $2 billion worth of chemicals are sprayed on global cotton crops each year, almost half of which are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organization (WHO).[3]

Although the wool used to make sweaters is a completely renewable resource, "grown" in all 50 states, it also poses environmental risks.[4] In 2000, sheep used in wool production were treated with over 14,000 pounds of pesticides to ward off lice, flies, mange, and other pests. The three leading insecticides used on sheep in 2005 — fenvalerate, malathion, and permethrin — pose various environmental dangers, including high toxicity to fish and amphibians and groundwater contamination. Chemical antibiotic feed additives used to boost growth rates in sheep are believed to contaminate surface and groundwater, and in some cases, drinking water supplies in rural areas. This is a result of antibiotics in sheep feces.[5]

External links


  1. Council for Textile Recycling - Don't Overlook Textiles!
  2. Organic Consumers Association - Clothes for a Change: Background Info
  3. Earth Justice Foundation - The Deadly Chemicals in Cotton
  4. American Sheep Industry Association - The Wool Market
  5. Organic Trade Association - Wool and the Environment
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