Repurpose your unwanted clothes

Dec 28, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Not to get into consumerism in great detail, but we make a lot of garbage. Hence, in the new year, let's try to be a little more conscious. Instead of throwing out your unwanted clothes, why not recycle them?

woman going through closet

While you're still laminating the final copy of your resolutions list and thinking of all the things you're going to toss out (along with the old year), stop!

It's almost tradition to rummage through your closet at the beginning of a new year and re-evaluate what you want to keep for the "new" you. And while shoes and coats should probably be donated to charity, most of your clothes can actually be recycled and made useful again! Keep an open mind, and get creative. Here are a few ideas to get you started.


For home

Sweaters tend to be larger and bulkier than other tops, so think heavy-duty! You can turn those old knit sweaters into adorable pillows, for example. Embellish them with some mismatched buttons, or even sew on sequins for some visual interest. Christmas comes each year, so think ahead. Recycle old wool sweaters by making stockings for next year — the best part is that they'll each be one of a kind.


Think warmth. Use old sweaters to make hats, mittens and even boot inserts. Decorate with buttons, sequins, beads or felt. It's easy and looks eclectic.


For home

Shirts can be made into small decorative pillows or fashioned into napkins. Of course, choose shirts that are presentable, since they will be displayed in your home.


Use old button-ups for details like elbow patches or appliques. They add visual interest to an otherwise dull article of clothing or accessory. Remodel an old shirt into a bow, and attach it to a headband or a belt. If you have an unwanted men's shirt lying around, with a bit of effort you can remake it into a cute dress. Get creative with these!

Pants and skirts

For home

Of course you can use pants and skirts for pillows as well. Patterned articles work best. You can also use a pair of pants to make a table runner or cute little coasters.


Pants can make durable little belts — twist them or braid them. You can also braid them into bracelets or make flowers and bows for headbands. Pants make great elbow patches as well.

If all else fails, you can always make a quilt! Or donate. Find a way to reuse old closet favourites, and let us know what you did with your unwanted clothes.

More on winter fashion

Winter accessories you can't be without
The dos and don'ts of dressing for a Canadian winter
Warm winter sweaters you need

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