Repurposing jeans and uses for old denim

First published May 2010, last updated January 2013

I have a few pairs of old jeans that really should be retired. But it’s hard to give up a pair of old blue jeans – they become like a friend. A ratty friend that your other friends may not want to be seen alongside; but comfortable and familiar nonetheless.

I guess it’s good denim is so durable and old jeans so hard to part with as ‘normal’ cotton isn’t environmentally friendly. 925 gallons (around 3,500 litres) of water are required to produce a single pound of cotton. According to Wikipedia, cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides; more than any other single major crop.

The dyes used in making denim have been known to pollute waterways near jeans factories as has the pumice used for creating the stonewashed/stressed look.

Anyhow, what usually happens at this point with my old jeans is they become rags or I’ll use them as padding when packing boxes as that’s about all they are good for by the time I’m done with them – except perhaps for use in earth friendly insulation.

My father would sometimes cut the legs off of his and extend their life through repurposing the jeans as a pair of shorts.

A few other uses for old jeans I’ve seen around the place:

– Cut them up to use as patches.

– If yours don’t get in the same condition as mine; consider donating them to charity

– Cut off the legs, fill them with sand and sew up the ends to create door snakes to stop draughts.

Nothing really exciting there – but I headed out to Instructables and found a bunch of interesting ways (complete with instructions) to not so much to recycle jeans, but more repurpose or “upcycle” them; including:

It’s a bit of a shame we males usually aren’t taught how to sew as we grow up or those who are may be subjected to heckling – it’s such a great skill to have; particularly on the upcycling scene. Oh well, guess it’s never too late to learn as sewing, knitting, crocheting are all great self-sufficiency skills!

Have you created anything interesting by repurposing old jeans?


Jeans That Clean The Air