5 Ways To Upcycle Your Clothes Like An Eco-Chic Goddess—No Sewing Machine Needed!

April 11, 2018

In an attempt to keep up with the latest ever-changing trends, the fashion industry is known for churning out fast fashion pieces that are in need of replacing not long after their purchase — partly because the clothing is “seasonal” and quickly goes out of style, but mainly because the clothing is so poorly made it falls apart after just a few wears. Along with making cheap products, the fast fashion industry is also known for polluting the environment, using exorbitant amounts of water during production, producing clothing that’s riddled with toxic chemicals, and exploiting marginalized groups of workers by forcing them to work in sweatshop conditions.

Since “disposable fashion” makes up the majority of mall racks and store shelves, it’s no surprise the average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing each year. But what is surprising is the fact that at the top of the “wear-a-shirt-two-or-three-times-before-tossing-it” list is a group known for their eco-warrior spirit and sustainably-conscious ways: The Millennials.

Granted, we millennials are also known for being the thriftiest. Millennials thrift shop more than any generation and have begun giving their used clothing a second chance via donations. Although clothing donated to thrift stores like Goodwill or The Salvation Army don’t always end up where you might think, it’s still a step towards remedying these fashionably wasteful ways.

As Fashion Revolution Week nears, now is as good a time as any to re-evaluate your buying habits — especially when it comes to clothing. Ditch fast fashion brands and opt for slow fashion for a more sustainable style. If you are going to purchase clothing, make it a point to only buy from brands that don’t use harmful chemicals during production and don’t rely on sweatshop labor. Here are five ultra chic, non-toxic (and highly ethical!) clothing brands to help get you started on your very own fashion revolution. For a more hands-on approach, you can also practice quality over quantity and breathe new life into your old wares by upcycling them!

3 Ways To Upcycle Your Clothing & Be More Chic And Sustainable Than Ever

Why Upcycle?

Put simply, upcycling your old clothing helps keep them out of landfills. Similar to recycling (which breaks down waste into raw materials), upcycling involves transforming waste that would otherwise end up in the trash into a product or material that is of higher quality. Instead of spending money on big name brands, try transforming your used clothing into pieces that are worthy of a runway. Get creative!

If you’ve never touched a sewing machine, worry not — you don’t have to be an expert seamstress to revamp your old wares! If you’re trying to be less wasteful when it comes to fashion, here are a few easy ways you can help reduce waste and upcycle your clothing at home, DIY-style.

Customize Your Clothes…

If you’ve got a worn pair of ripped jeans sitting in your closet, take them out and get to customizing! Transform your raggedy jeans by sewing on scraps of an old shirt or skirt onto any rips or holes. If you’ve outgrown a pair of pants, you can also cut them down into shorts and use the remaining scraps for another DIY project. (See below for ideas!)

3 Ways To Upcycle Your Clothing & Be More Chic And Sustainable Than Ever

Or Create Something New!

One of the best ways to make use of torn and tattered clothing is to turn them into something new! Turn an oversized shirt into a dress (tutorial here) or jean scraps into pillows. (Like this adorable hexagon pillow!)

For an easy DIY project, you can easily turn your old shirts into reusable produce bags! Not only is this a great way to repurpose an old tee, it’s also a terrific alternative to using plastic produce bags at the store. Try Ecouterre’s simple tutorial for making your very own grocery bags here.

3 Ways To Upcycle Your Clothing & Be More Chic And Sustainable Than Ever

For another DIY upcycling project, get step by step directions here for making the perfect beach tote by repurposing an old pair of jeans! Once you’ve got the basics down, you can add pockets, studs, you name it!

5 Ways To Upcycle Your Clothes Like An Eco-Chic Goddess—No Sewing Machine Needed!

Have you ever tried upcycling your clothes? 

Also by Audrey: Save Your $$$ & Get Glam With These 5 Cruelty-Free Drugstore Makeup Brands

Related: The *Definitive* Guide To Eco Friendly Jeans–13 Brands That Will Rock Your World

I Switched To Ethical Fashion & Found My Signature Style. Psst—You Can, Too

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Photos: Pexels, Uke Denim via Instagram, Pete Bellis via Unsplash

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Audrey resides in Los Angeles, California with her rescue dog, Gullah Blue. Audrey is a passionate writer and advocates sustainable and cruelty-free living. Follow Audrey on Instagram @audreyenjoli.


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