How to recycle denim

Updated April 17, 2017

Denim is a sturdy fabric that can be used for a multitude of things once its days as your favourite pair of jeans have faded away. Finding creative, useful things to do with your old jeans creates more space in your closet, helps lighten your toll on the environment, and saves space in local landfills. Some denim recycling methods are more conventional than others, but all provide a way to give new life to your faded, ripped jeans.

Donate your jeans to be processed into housing insulation. Once the zippers and other metal aspects of the jeans are removed, the denim can be processed back into its original cotton form to be used in new houses as insulation. It takes around 500 pairs of jeans to insulate one house. To find out how to donate your old jeans to this process, visit

Cut up your old jeans and sew them into accessories for you to keep for yourself or sell to others. You can use the old denim with its zippers and pockets to create purses, textbook or journal covers, rice heat packs or small pouches to store cell phones or MP3 players.

Patch old jeans with old jeans. If you have one pair of jeans you want to continue wearing for messy work projects or for a fashion statement, cut up another pair of jeans to use as patches for them. You can also use the denim patches on non-denim material like jackets or travel bags.

Make pet toys out of your old jeans. Cut up pieces of your jeans, fill them with stuffing and sew them shut. Your pets will love these new toys because they smell like you and they're made from durable material that won't rip easily.

Cut off the bottom part of your jeans to create drink cosies. You can make these cosies to fit coffee cups, beer bottles or soda cans, all you have to do is cut off the excess material around your bottom hem and sew it together.

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About the Author

Chelsea Baldwin began writing professionally for local newspapers in 2008. She has published articles in “High Country Press” and “Kernersville News.” She also produced newsletters for a local chapter of AIESEC, a global nonprofit organization. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Appalachian State University.