(Photo: a woman sews a button on fabric)

Woman manually sewing clothes | © Szasz-Fabian Erika \ Fotolia.com

Not getting new shoes until the old ones wore out, darning the toe hole in the end of a sock, patching a favourite pair of jeans for the third time; these practices are no longer a reality for most of today’s youth. Maybe, if we are lucky, our moms can still sew a badge on our bags or fix a small hole in our favourite sweater, but for the most part, younger generations today – and generations to come – will have no idea how to do this.

With the rise of fast fashion, the cheapness of clothes and shoes, and constant fashion media in our faces, why would we fix something old, when we could have something new for a lot less effort and not much more money? The everyday art of fixing our clothes is almost lost, and the majority of us do not even own a sewing kit – let alone have an idea where to start when it comes to fixing holes in our socks. However, a new trend is arising that also reduces clothing waste – upcycling. 

With the average North American throwing away around 68 pounds of clothing a year, any reduction in textile waste is important. Most recycling can be considered “downcycling” – consumer products are broken down into their base materials to be made into new items. Upcycling skips the energy-intensive step of breaking down materials, instead refashioning old items into something new.  

It is very easy to get started – just go though your closet and find old t-shirts you never wear, or a pair of jeans that you were going to throw away. You can use the links below (or check out our Pinterest page) for great ideas on how to turn these old items into something beautiful!

“Buy less, repair more”

Companies like Patagonia have been pushing their customers to “Buy less, repair more,” and have even released a magazine ad with an image of a jacket captioned, “do not buy this jacket.” They have partnered with programs like iFixit which provides tutorials and tools on the basics for how to sew on a button, how to sew seams using a sewing machine, or how to sew on a patch. Patagonia has even built a “Worn Wear Repair Truck” which will tour around the US and Canada throughout the spring, driven by clothing-repair experts who will teach people the skills that they need to repair their own clothes. iFixit also has a range of apparel-repair tutorials you can follow online, and we’ve collected a number of basic tips and tutorials on Pinterest.

So the next time you get a hole in your pants, don’t throw them away – teach yourself to fix them, or find a cool upcycling project to turn them into something new!

View our Upcycling board on Pinterest

Follow Alternatives Journal's board Upcycling on Pinterest.


View our Fix It! board on Pinterest

Follow Alternatives Journal's board Fix It! on Pinterest.

Jessie O’Driscoll is a recent graduate from the Environment and Business program at the University of Waterloo. 

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