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Upcycling vs Recycling Your Clothes

Last updated: June 24, 2022

We all know the importance of recycling and reusing plastic, paper, and aluminum cans to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and the ocean. But what about clothes? The average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing per year, and most of that goes straight to a landfill.

You can help keep clothes out of landfills by recycling or upcycling them. But what's the difference, and which is better?

In this article, we'll go over:

Keep reading to learn more about upcycling vs recycling your clothes!

What's the Difference Between Upcycling and Recycling?

Both upcycling and recycling keep clothes out of landfills by giving them a new life. But there are some critical differences between the two.

Upcycle vs Recycle:

  • Upcycling is when you take a piece of clothing and turn it into something new, like taking an old shirt and making it into a headband or a purse. This usually requires some sewing or other creative skills.
  • Recycling is when you take a piece of clothing and break it down into its individual fibers so it can be made into new fabric. While you can recycle at home, it usually requires special machines and is best done by clothing companies or recycling plants.

The key difference is that upcycling uses the clothes to make something that is better than the original, while recycling just uses the clothes to make something new.

Which Is Better?

When it comes to reducing your footprint, upcycling is the way to go if you have the time and skills. It requires less energy and resources than recycling, and you end up with a one-of-a-kind item.

If you upcycle your clothes at home, they don't have to go through any industrial processes, which is even better for the environment.

But sometimes recycling is the best option. If you don't have the time or skills to upcycle your clothes, recycling them is a great way to keep them out of landfills.

And if you recycle your clothes through a program that gives them to people in need, you can help reduce poverty and provide someone with a warm piece of clothing for the winter.

Either way, recycling or upcycling your clothes is better than throwing them away!

How to Recycle Clothing for Cash

You can recycle clothes for cash or store credit at some clothing stores, like H&M and The North Face. These brands and many others offer recycled clothing programs that reward you with gift cards or discounts when you recycle your old clothes.

To find a clothing recycling program near you, just do a quick Google search.


Where can I shop for clothes that are made sustainably?

There are a few different places you can shop for sustainable clothing. One option is to buy secondhand clothes from consignment or thrift stores. There are also several clothing brands that specialize in sustainable fashion made from recycled materials. Luckily, it's becoming more common for sustainable clothing options to be available at major retailers as well.

What are some other ways to reduce my clothing footprint?

In addition to recycling and upcycling clothes, there are a few other ways to reduce your clothing footprint. You can buy fewer clothes overall and make an effort to buy clothes that are made to last from high-quality materials. You can also take better care of your clothes to make them last longer.

When you do go shopping, check out thrift stores and consignment shops first. And when you're done with a piece of clothing, donate it or sell it so someone else can give it a new life.

What are some tips for upcycling clothes?

If you're interested in upcycling clothes, here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Get inspired! Look online or in magazines for ideas of things you can make.
  • Start small. Don't try to make something too complicated right off the bat.
  • Have fun! Upcycling should be enjoyable, so don't get too stressed out about it.
  • If you're not crafty, that's okay! You can search for local artists and designers who can upcycle clothes for you. Browse through upcycling shops on Etsy or Google to find someone in your area.

What are some tips for recycling clothes?

If you're interested in recycling clothes, here are a few tips:

  • Do some research. There are several different ways to recycle clothes, so find the option that works best for you.
  • Check with your local clothing stores to see if they offer recycling programs.
  • Simplify the process. If you have a lot of clothes to recycle, sort them by material (cotton, polyester, etc.) to make it easier.
  • Get creative! If you're feeling crafty, try upcycling your clothes instead of just recycling them.

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