Rose from shares some tips Gen Z uses to upcycle clothes and bring them new life – helping them to reduce their carbon footprint.

We all talk about ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’; however, it can easy to forget about upcycling. While there are many things you can reuse, like cartons, coffee jars and food containers, have you considered upcycling clothes?

A Few Ideas For Upcycling Clothes

Sustainable Living | 24th February 2023 by Rose Morley

Rose from shares some tips Gen Z uses to upcycle clothes and bring them new life – helping them to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ideas For Upcycling Clothes You Don't Wear

We all talk about ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’; however, it can easy to forget about upcycling. While there are many things you can reuse, like cartons, coffee jars and food containers, have you considered upcycling clothes?

We live in an age of disposable clothing where people are wearing clothes less because they don’t want to be seen wearing the same outfit more than once. One reason for this is that they have posted themselves wearing a specific outfit on their Facebook and Instagram.

However, social media is not the only reason why people wear clothes less before they are thrown away. Fast-fashion brands design on-trend clothing styles at affordable prices, allowing people to frequently renew and update wardrobes and clothes more quickly, cheaply and with speed.

This is where upcycling enters the modern world because people, especially Gen Z, are now looking towards being more sustainable, and a great way to contribute to our own sustainability efforts is by upcycling clothes.

What is upcycling?

Upcycling is where you reuse an item for another purpose. It’s the act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function. However, upcycling clothes means something slightly different. It means getting crafty with an old piece of clothing and making it wearable again. Upcycling clothes has become increasingly popular with Generation Z, which is why it is becoming a hot trend.

The benefits of upcycling clothes

The main benefit of upcycling is that you are prolonging the life of clothes you no longer wear and preventing the said items from going to the landfill for a little longer. Furthermore, by prolonging the life of your clothes, you reduce the need for new materials to be used for creating new products, thus influencing and helping to reduce the carbon emissions from mass clothing manufacturers. 

You are doing a good thing by reducing your carbon footprint if you decide to upcycle clothes. It isn’t just about being more eco-friendly, either. It can also save you some money as well. You will spend far less money by repairing damaged clothes instead of throwing them away and buying a new jumper or a new pair of denims.

Upcycling clothing ideas

If you are unsure how to upcycle clothes, here are several methods which are great for prolonging the lifetime of your favourite clothes.

Dye your clothes

If you have damaged your favourite shirt recently, this upcycling clothing idea is for you. There is nothing worse than getting a stain on your clothes and not being able to get it out. 

Dyeing is a great way to upcycle clothes, ensuring you hide stains and helping to make them look more natural. There are a couple of ways you can dye your clothes as well. Dip dyeing is one method which Generation Z loves. Another natural technique is to use food as dyes. Using avocado or onion skins can create interesting colour dyes. Dyeing is a great way to upcycle your clothes and extend the life of your favourite clothing items.

Patch your clothes

Not everybody is an expert with a sewing needle; however, there are many sewing guides available online to help you get started. If you know how to use a sewing needle, it can work to your benefit when upcycling clothes. For anything that has a hole or a rip on it, consider sewing a patch on it. Alternatively, if you can’t use a sewing needle, then consider glueing on another patch of fabric.

Adding patches to your clothing is very trendy at the moment. Furthermore, several fashion brands are designing clothes that already look like they have been upcycled. Not only will a patch on your clothes make you look trendy by customising your clothing, but you will also reduce your carbon footprint.


Again, this is for those who know how to use a sewing needle and have embroidery skills. Grab yourself a needle and a thread, sit yourself down and use those sewing skills! It is a great way to upcycle clothes you no longer wear and make them look more fashionable. Again, this is something that Generation Z has adopted to prolong the life of their clothes.

Cutting your clothes

Cutting your clothes is another fantastic upcycling clothing idea for prolonging the use of your clothes. If you have a pair of jeans that are damaged at the bottom of the leg, turn them into shorts. The same goes for a t-shirt. If the t-shirt has a stain which you can’t get out, cut the t-shirt and turn it into a crop top.

Upcycle your clothes into a blanket

If your clothes are too worn out to be used again, and the other upcycling clothing ideas won’t work, this one’s for you. However, you will need a substantial number of clothes for this method.

Go digging in your wardrobe to find all your old clothes which you can turn into a blanket. The best part about this is that you can get creative as well. You can do this by making patterns from the different coloured clothes you no longer use.

Upcycle clothes into a tote bag

We all know plastic bags damage the environment, which explains why tote bags are a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Make sure you choose clothes that are thick enough to carry heavy items.

Makeshift scrunchie/ hair scarf

This is one of our favourite methods for upcycling clothes. Making use of clothes is a skill, but this is next-level creativity. Furthermore, this is quite a standard style for scrunchies. Head scarfs are a common style for hair tying. If a hair tie isn’t for you, turn it into a sweatband instead. Your options are endless when making makeshift items with your old clothes.

Use your old clothes to clean your house

There comes a time when clothes are beyond saving. Using a stained shirt or worn t-shirt is great for using as cleaning cloths around the house. Turn them into cloths for surfaces that you do not want to scratch. They are great because once they are dirty, you can put them in the wash and use them again. It is a great way to save money on household cleaning products.

If you want to live more sustainably and reduce your carbon footprint, upcycling clothes is definitely with considering. It can save you money on buying new clothes and other things. Upcycling can also help you contribute less to landfills while making good use of old clothes that you no longer wear. You will be testing your creativity and can feel much better about it. Next time you do a wardrobe edit, consider what you can upcycle. Consider what you can do with any old clothes such as hoodies, tracksuit bottoms, oversized tees or dresses. Good luck!

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Rose Morley
Rose Morley is a freelance writer with a love for all things sustainable. In her spare time, she loves finding out ways to be more eco-friendly, from her fashion to diet and home habits!

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