Sustainable Living

Waste Reduction Week: Upcycled T-Shirts

This past August we featured a series that focused on five fast fashion facts and five questions with a sustainable, slow fashion brand. In this instalment of the series, we shared that fast fashion has driven consumers to purchase, and dispose of, many more garments than in the past. Furthermore, due to the poor quality of many of these textiles, most are not able to be recycled or sold in second-hand shops.

As this is Textiles Tuesday in #wastereductionweek we’re sharing a few ways to re-use your old t-shirts that will keep them in use, keep them out of landfills, and maybe replace a single-use disposable item as well!

Dryer Sheets

I had some leftover t-shirts from another project (see T-shirt rug below!) and had come across instructions for making reusable, chemical free dryer sheets when I was looking into eliminating the plastic from my laundry routine for Plastic Free July. Fast forward to rainy fall weather, when I can no longer hang my clothes outside, and I was looking for a way to freshen my laundry as I was missing that dried-in-the-fresh-air scent.

I followed these instructions to cut out my t-shirt sheets and mix the vinegar solution. You don’t need to use essential oils but I did use about 10 drops of one of my favourite clove-based blends.

The Results

I found that I needed about double the liquid to saturate all of the strips and I used vinegar, however next time I would probably use water resulting in a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar with 10 drops of essential oils. The reason for this is that I found the vinegar to be too strong in the load of laundry that I dried with one of the “dryer sheets”.

The instructions mentioned that it’s also possible to treat laundry with vinegar in the wash machine, rather than the dryer, so I tried and found that I preferred the wash machine method.

Things to Change Next Time

I plan to use more essential oil in the blend in my next batch as I would like to have a bit more of the scent come through (as I plan to keep on using the sheets in the wash machine rather than the dryer), otherwise I think these are a great replacement for disposable dryer sheets!

No-Sew Reusable Bag

I tried this and it was so easy! Follow these instructions and in about 15 minutes you can upcycle your t-shirt into a tote bag.

Here’s mine!

T-Shirt Rug

I documented how I created a rug out of old t-shirts in this post – it’s a bit of a long process but so worth it in the end!

Have you ever upcycled clothes you no longer wear into something new?

*Ellen MacArthur Foundation


What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!