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

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.

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via © Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021 and © Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Two of the winners of the Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

A few weeks ago, Upworthy shared the hilarious winners of the 2021 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards and the winner was a well-timed shot of a monkey who appears to have hurt the family jewels on a suspension wire. (Don't worry folks, no monkeys were harmed for the awards.)

The awards were created six years ago by Tom Sullam and Paul Joynson-Hicks to promote positive awareness of animal welfare issues. The competition has been so successful, the duo decided to branch out and create the Comedy Pet Photo Awards, where photographers can submit pictures of their furry friends for a £2,000 ($2650) prize.

Donations generated by the competition go to Animal Support Angels, an animal welfare charity in the UK.

This year's winner is Zoe Ross for "Whizz Pop," a photo of her labrador puppy Pepper who appears to be tooting bubbles.

“We never ever thought that we would win but entered the competition because we loved the idea of helping a charity just by sending in a funny photo of Pepper," Ross said in a statement. "She is such a little monkey, and very proud of herself, bringing in items from the garden and parading past you until you notice her. She is the happiest puppy we’ve ever known and completely loved to pieces.”

Here are the rest of the winners of the 2021 Comedy Pet Photo Awards.

Overall Winner: Zoe Ross "Whizz Pop," Penkridge, UK

© Zoe Ross /Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Did this puppy swallow a bubble?

Best Dog Category: Carmen Cromer "Jurassic Bark," Pittsboro, North Carolina

© Carmen Cromer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"My golden retriever, Clementine, loves to stick her face in front of the hose while I water the plants. Her expression in this photo made me think of a tyrannosaurus rex, hence the title, "Jurassic Bark." Duh nuh nuuuh nuhnuh, duh nuh nuuuh nuh nuh, dun duh duuuh nuh nuh nuh nUUUUUUhhhh," Carmen Cromer.

Best Cat Category: Kathrynn Trott "Photobomb," Ystradgynlais, UK

© Kathrynn Trott/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Jeff stealing the limelight from his brother Jaffa.

Best Horse Category: Mary Ellis, "I said 'Good Morning," Platte River State Park, Nebraska

© Mary Ellis/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I like to visit the stable horses before I begin my hike at the State Park. This is the reply I received when I said 'Good morning,'" Mary Ellis.

All Other Creatures Category: Sophie Bonnefoi, "The Eureka Moment," Oxford, UK

© Sophie Bonnefoi/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Cutie and Speedy are two chicks hatched from eggs placed in an incubator at home in August 2020. They spent their first few weeks indoors. In the photo, they are just over two weeks old. They were curious about everything. This is the day they discovered their own shadow. It was hilarious to see them wondering and exploring that 'dark thing' that was moving with them!" Sophie Bonnefoi.

Junior Category: Suzi Lonergan, "Sit!" Pacific Palisades, California

© Suzi Lonergan/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Our granddaughter gave the command to sit. Beau is very obedient," Suzi Lonergan.

Pets Who Look Like Their Owners Category: Jakub Gojda, "That Was a Good One!" Czech Republic

© Jakub Gojda/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This photo was taken by accident during the photography of my ex-girlfriend with her beloved mare. For this cheerful moment, I thank the fly that sat on the horse's nose and he instinctively shook his head," Jakub Gojda.

Highly Commended: Chloe Beck, "Hugo the Photobomber," Walsall, UK

© Chloe Beck/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is my best friend Faith, her husband Alex, and their cheeky Sproodle, Hugo. Faith wanted a photograph to mark a special occasion—her first outing after shielding at home for 14 months. Hugo jumped into the frame at just the right moment!" Chloe Beck.

Highly Commended: Luke O'Brien, "Mumford and Chum," Coventry, UK

© Luke O'Brien/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"Losing the opportunity to play with my human bandmates during lockdown, Flint, my rescue dog, soon taught me that we didn't just have sharp bones in common, but musical ones, too. He soon became the perfect substitute for a collaborative stomp up at home, so much so that we felt we deserved our own band name (Muttford and Chum). With my camera set up remotely during this shoot, I think it's fair to say that the image is proof that his conviction as a performer matches my own," Luke O'Brien.

Highly Commended: Kathryn Clark, "Wine Time," Clichester, UK

© Kathryn Clark/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"It's that time of day again! Little Blue enjoys it almost as much as me," Kathryn Clark.

Highly Commended: Diana Jill Mehner, "Crazy in Love with Fall," Paderborn, Germany

© Diana Jill Mehner/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

This is Leia. As you can see, she definitely loves playing with all the leaves in autumn. It was really tricky to take this picture because you never know what the dog is going to do next," Diana Jill Mehner.

Highly Commended: Christine Johnson, "Boing," Crosby Beach, UK

© Christine Johnson/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"I was busy playing with my dog on the beach and this dog came to play. I liked the shapes he was making in the air," Christine Johnson

Highly Commended: Manel Subirats Ferrer, "Ostrich Style," Platja del Prat de Llobregat, Spain

© Manel Subirats Ferrer/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

Nuka playing hide and seek at the beach.

Highly Commended: Colin Doyle, "Nosey Nieghbor," Bromsgrove, UK

© Colin Doyle/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

​"According to Ozzy, we need a new fence panel ASAP. He is fed up with Chester our nosy next door neighbor spying on him every time he has a meal," Colin Doyle.

Highly Commended: Corey Seeman, "A Warm Spot on a Cold Day," Michigan

© Corey Seeman/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Two of the morning regulars at the dog park are Gary (hound mix with the jacket) and Kona, one of the most chill dogs ever," Corey Seeman.

Highly Commended: Lucy Slater, "So What?" San Diego, California

© Lucy Slater/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"This is how I like to sit!" Vincent the cat.

Highly Commended: Mollie Cheary, "Photobomb," Poole, UK

© Mollie Cheary/Animal Friends Comedy Pet Photo Awards 2021

"Bailey was so excited to see her friends, she couldn't sit still for a photo!" Mollie Cheary.

@RhyzOrDie on YouTube.

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