Own too many jeans to count? You’re not alone. Here’s how to give old jeans a second life.

I went through my closet the other day. The amount of jeans I own is slightly absurd, and I have a feeling that’s pretty typical.

The denim industry is a huge one. Worldwide, over 1 BILLION pairs of jeans are sold each year.


Image via Chris RubberDragon/Flickr.

That denim demand isn’t easy on the environment. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a single pair of jeans. And that doesn’t even account for the water used to make and distribute them! The State of the Apparel Sector reports that the full water footprint for a single pair of jeans is about 2,866 gallons. Yes, that’s a lot.

Now, while our planet is made primarily of water, we’ve seen time and time again that it’s not a resource to be taken lightly — National Geographic points out that “in essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet's water is available to fuel and feed its 6.8 billion people.” Yikes.

And according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average American tosses about 80 pounds of textiles annually. Given how many jeans are sold each year, you can bet they make up a significant portion of that waste.

Image via Adam Levine/Flickr.

It’s not like denim “goes bad.” So, instead of tossing it, what can we do when it’s time to retire our collection?

Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to give denim a second life! From companies that are using their corporate power for good to crafty people who show us how to transform old jeans into everyday objects, there’s an option for anyone who wants to take a small step toward keeping this planet in functioning order. And we are living in the internet age after all — there are a ton of DIY blogs and videos online to help the less-skilled along. Here are some of my favorites.

There are companies finding unique ways to cut down on waste:

Levi's & Evrnu

Levi's is pretty much synonymous with jeans. And while they benefit from our denim fervor, they’re also well aware of the effect of textile waste on the environment. So they got creative. Partnering with Evrnu, they created jeans from discarded T-shirts. Yes, they literally turned T-shirts into jeans. Their website states that “the cutting-edge method not only converts consumer waste into renewable fiber, it also uses 98 percent less water than virgin cotton products, according to Evrnu data.”

This is still an early prototype, but for so many, it's already proven its worth. In a release, Paul Dillinger, head of global product innovation at Levi Strauss & Co. said,

"Although early days, this technology holds great promise and is an exciting advancement as we explore the use of regenerated cotton to help significantly reduce our overall impact on the planet. ... As technologies such as Evrnu evolve over time, there will be greater opportunities to accelerate the pace of change towards a closed loop apparel industry."

That’s good on so many levels. Less water used, less waste produced, and out of it all, an eco-friendly pair of jeans is produced. That’s a nice loop.

These creative projects could be a fun way to hold onto that pair of jeans.

You know, the pair with the hole in the side that no longer fits, but which you’d never get rid of ... because memories.

Potholders

I have a knack for destroying potholders. I’ve accidentally seared quite a few by leaving them on or near the stove, so I was pretty pumped to see that my old jeans could be a solution to that ongoing problem.

Image via Mary Turner/Flickr.

Skinny jeans

Commatose blog shared a great trick. With the help of a sewing machine and some patience, old, baggy jeans can become stylish skinny jeans. The best part? The jeans are completely tailored to your body and your preferred fit because you get to make them exactly the way you like them.

Image via Free People/Flickr.

Picnic quilt

Cutesycrafts blog blew me away with this DIY quilt and versatile carrying strap. The quilt is adorable and perfect for the summer months when we want to sit outside in the park but aren't quite sure whether that green patch of grass is a smart choice or every dog's favorite poop spot. And the carrier? Well that's the best part — it can be used to carry just about anything that you can fold and fit into the straps.

Image via Cutesy Crafts, used with permission.

And for those of us who aren't great with a sewing kit, there are a lot of easy ways to donate:

Thrift stores

Thrift stores offer a ton of options for turning in your old denim. Some will even pick up the clothes from your house! They resell what they can and recycle what can't be salvaged.

And if you're wondering what happens to your dscarded denim once it's donated, companies like Blue Jeans Go Green are doing pretty cool things, like making denim insulation — yes, that's a thing! Picture your old pants keeping families warm as the temperatures drop. And they don't stop there. A portion of the insulation created is provided to communities in need. Doing good all around.

The options are endless, really.


Image via Maria Morri/Flickr.

Whatever you choose to do, giving denim as long of a life as possible seems like something the environment will thank us for later.

The fact that only 0.007% of the world’s water supply is available sounds bleak, but with a little creativity — and the help of corporate powers stepping up to the plate — it doesn’t have to be.

Heroes
True
Savers

I'm staring at my screen watching the President of the United States speak before a stadium full of people in North Carolina. He launches into a lie-laced attack on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, and the crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!"

The President does nothing. Says nothing. He just stands there and waits for the crowd to finish their outburst.

WATCH: Trump rally crowd chants 'send her back' after he criticizes Rep. Ilhan Omar www.youtube.com

My mind flashes to another President of the United States speaking to a stadium full of people in North Carolina in 2016. A heckler in the crowd—an old man in uniform holding up a TRUMP sign—starts shouting, disrupting the speech. The crowd boos. Soon they start chanting, "Hillary! Hillary! Hillary!"

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

Policing women's bodies — and by consequence their clothes — is nothing new to women across the globe. But this mother's "legging problem" is particularly ridiculous.

What someone wears, regardless of gender, is a personal choice. Sadly, many folks like Maryann White, mother of four sons, think women's attire — particularly women's leggings are a threat to men.

While sitting in mass at the University of Notre Dame, White was aghast by the spandex attire the young women in front of her were sporting.

Keep Reading Show less
More

Men are sharing examples of how they step up and step in when they see problematic behaviors in their peers, and people are here for it.

Twitter user "feminist next door" posed an inquiry to her followers, asking "good guys" to share times they saw misogyny or predatory behavior and did something about it. "What did you say," she asked. "What are your suggestions for the other other men in this situation?" She added a perfectly fitting hashtag: #NotCoolMan.

Not only did the good guys show up for the thread, but their stories show how men can interrupt situations when they see women being mistreated and help put a stop to it.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture