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Give Your Stuff A Second Life! Here Are Top Upcycling Ideas To Try

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Want to know some crazy facts? Around 84% of our clothes end up in landfills or in incinerators [1], and roughly 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year [2]! How can we ever extend their lives to stop this madness?

A white sweater laid down on a white background, folded to hug a pair of jeans and glasses on top
Such comfy clothes, we should not put you to waste

Source: Ylanite Koppens [19]

People have the habit of just simply throwing things away once they think they are no longer useful [3]. For example, fast fashion has turned clothes into disposable items. Sadly, their speedy growth has also put them as one of the world’s largest pollutants where they are responsible for millions of tons of CO2 each year [4].

Any clothes that are not bought or people throw away instead of donating would ultimately be landfilled. Imagine, more than 80% of all clothes made end up in the trash instead of keeping us warm [1]. That is about £140 million worth of clothes [5]!

Hey, clothes are not the only thing we’re wasting. Enter: single-use plastics. Plastics take HUNDREDS of years to biodegrade, and the scary thing is, the amount of plastics that we have in landfills has already reached billions (yes, BILLIONS) [6], where they harm everything in the environment, including us [7,8]

Wait, there’s hope: we can give them a second life, complete with a new purpose so they don’t have to be so short-lived!

How can their lives be extended, you ask? Well, we can always recycle, and we can definitely UPCYCLE!



A person holding a white tote bag filled with empty bottles
Grab your trash and let's upcycle!

Source: Polina Tankilevitch [20]

What is upcycling?

Upcycling can be defined as taking something that no longer has any use and transforming it into something new with a new purpose [9]. It is like giving an upgrade to old clothes, old bags—pretty much anything.

Old clothes and single-use plastics are the go-to materials to upcycle, thus preventing them from becoming trash [10]. There are so many ways to upcycle these items; the possibilities are endless! Without further ado, here are our top DIY ideas to upcycle your old clothes and single-use plastics:


1. Give a splash of color

Recoloring your clothes is a simple way to revamp old, faded clothes that is fun for all ages. It gives them a new life and they can help you be in sync with the ‘it’ colors of the season.

Tie-dye is one of the easiest ways to add new colors to your old, worn-out clothes. A small heads-up, though: you are going to need some gloves. Once these are set, pour warm water and soda ash on your chosen piece of clothing, say, shirt. Then, twist and swirl the shirt to your liking, secure the twists and swirls with a pair of rubber bands and dye the shirt with the colors (remember to do this on both sides). Let the colors settle for at least a day before removing the rubber bands [11]. We can guarantee that you will love your colorful shirt!

Two people with their backs faced to the picture, wearing tie-dye shirts
Give it life a new life with new colors!

Source: Joshua Stitt [21]

2. Cut and change the style (cut into a new shirt, turn it into a bag, etc.)

Life with fast fashion allows us to buy and toss clothes away, as quickly as new trends arrive and go. With this practice going on constantly, clothes build up quickly in our landfills [12]. A way to counteract this is to restyle the clothes you already have. Though it may present itself as a challenge, restyling your clothes could certainly give you a new wardrobe without having to spend a single cent [13].

For example, you can cut off the sleeves and the length of your shirt to make a new crop top for the summer. This is a cheaper option to get new clothes and one that is sustainable for the environment. What’s more, restyling your clothes can be a fun bonding session with your family and friends!

A girl wearing a white shirt with the sleeves cut off
Snip snip, it's time for some changes

Source: Angello Pro [22]

3. Turn them into something else completely

Oh, the possibilities are endless! Clothes do not have to remain as clothes. By upcycling them, they can really become anything you want: a new bag [14], or even a cozy new friend[15]! While this may be the most challenging upcycling idea yet, don’t let this challenge get in your sustainability journey!

A cute little brown teddy bear sitting on a stair step
From an old shirt to a brand new friend, so cozy and cute

Source: Marina Shatskih [23]




1. Home decorations

Do you know the irony with single-use plastics? They may have the shortest life-cycle, but they take the longest to decompose, taking up hundreds of years [16]. So, why not use the fact that they do not degrade easily to make cute home decorations that can last you forever? Making these would be cheaper, more fun and also personal than just simply buying new decorations.

A house plant in a brown pot, placed in a home-made pot holder
Got a new house plant? Well make them a new pot

Source: Stephanie Ho [24]

2. Fashion accessories

One reason why plastic is so fantastic is that it’s a multi-purpose material [17]. Instead of stashing old plastic bags or throwing them away, you can cut and sew them to make purses or wallets[18]!

A woman standing and showing a white bag, with a red elephant and red details
Let's get creative with plastic!

Source: Temara Bellis [25]

These are some ideas to inspire you, but the possibilities do not end here. There are so many more ways our everyday items could be upcycled and more different things that could be used as well, other than clothes and plastics. Just remember to reduce, reuse, and UPCYCLE!


Have any other ideas to what you can upcycle? Write it in our forum Here





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