Old is gold, as they say. Give your well-worn t-shirts a second life with our easy upcycling tricks.
Here’s the typical journey of a t-shirt: you buy it off the rack and it becomes your new go-to “going out tee”. After countless washes and sweaty afternoons, it downgrades to home wear or exercise gear. Finally, it reaches a point where it’s no longer public-friendly, and that’s usually where its life ends – in the trash. But wait, here’s some news. That t-shirt you just threw away actually has a longer lifespan – just upcycle and repurpose it! These are the DIY hacks you need in your life…
5 ways to upcycle and repurpose old t-shirts
1. Make one-of-a-kind arm candy
A t-shirt tote bag is so much easier to throw into the wash than those reusable shopping bags sold at supermarkets. If you’re all about BYOB (bringing your own bag) for groceries, you’ll want to wash them regularly to avoid contamination. This one’s easy. All you need is 10 minutes, an old t-shirt and a pair of scissors. You’ll have a cute new tote in a jiffy!
2. Double down on the snuggle factor
The more you wash your tee, the softer it becomes. So don’t let this “rare” material go to waste! You can upcycle your t-shirt as a snuggle buddy by turning it into a pillowcase. Just grab the shirt of your choice and a pair of scissors for this beginner-friendly craft.
3. Drift into dreams made of lovely memories
From school shirts to that rockin’ tee you wore on your first date, you probably have loads of t-shirts you can’t bear to toss as they carry wonderful memories with them. But, they’re so ragged that you can’t be seen with them in public. The solution? A t-shirt quilt – it’s a simple way to reuse those clothing items loaded with special meaning. This craft might require hands that are a little more artsy and nimble, but it’s a great way to preserve memories and stay warm at night.
4. Keep your home sweet home dust-free
With simple sewing skills, you can repurpose your t-shirt into a cleaning cloth. Tip: cotton tees are the best material due to their lightweight nature and high absorption power. If you have plenty of worn t-shirts, you can make multiple pieces of cleaning rags at one go, each with a different purpose – whether it’s for wiping the dining table or cleaning surfaces in the washroom.
5. You can’t have too many scrunchies
If you find yourself constantly asking, “Where on earth do all my hair ties disappear to?”, you’re not alone. Here’s one way to make ‘em more noticeable (and not-so-easy to lose). Turn tees into colourful scrunchies! It’s a foolproof DIY craft and you can make as many as you want to jazz up your OOTDs.
Upcycle, recycle or donate
All that said, why can’t we just throw our shabby t-shirts into the recycling bin? Well, technically, you can. But clothing needs to be sorted into groups of similar materials if they’re to be recycled properly. As most tees are made of mixed materials such as cotton-polyester, if you throw them into the recycling bin, you might mess up the system. That’s why it’s more sustainable to give your old clothes a second chance at life. After all, “reuse” comes before “recycle”.
However, if DIY crafts aren’t your cup of tea and your t-shirts are still in good, wearable condition, you can donate pre-loved items to those in need.
Simply make an appointment with The Green Square and these folks will collect goods like tees, shoes, belts and bags from your doorstep. They sell the items to secondhand textile importers in developing countries, where the underprivileged get access to them at affordable prices. The profits earned are used to provide free collection services and educational activities to support Singapore’s recycling efforts.
Alternatively, head to H&M to drop off clothes. The brand and material don’t matter – depending on their condition, they’ll either be marketed as secondhand goods or recycled for the production of new goods. Oh, and you’ll be given a discount on your new purchase. For more rewards, fill up your bag with at least 10 pre-loved clothing items and head to Refash to get cash or credits in return.
Whether it’s upcycling, recycling or donating, there’s always a better place for old tees than the bin. Let’s give our t-shirts a second chance and show some love to the Earth!