Have you recently thrown away a pair of old jeans because you felt like they were not in a “good enough” condition to be donated? You didn’t have to! Most textile waste, even those really old jeans, can be diverted from the landfill by properly recycling them or even upcycling them into a fun craft! According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), people and businesses dispose of approximately 230,000 tons of textile waste annually. This statistic only accounts for textile waste in Massachusetts, but one can imagine that the numbers are significantly higher when we look at textile waste on a national level. However, textiles can easily be diverted from the landfill if people and businesses decide to recycle or upcycle textile waste instead. The MassDEP states that about ninety-five percent of textile waste can be recycled. There are several manufacturer and retailer take-back programs across Massachusetts that accept old and used textiles. These take-back programs are listed on MassDEP’s website. By using the Beyond the Bin Recycling Directory, you can also enter your location in Massachusetts and the type of material you want to recycle, such as textile waste, and the directory will tell you what locations accept that material.

While recycling unique materials like textiles is a great option to reduce waste, you can also easily upcycle them. Keep reading for instructions on how to upcycle a worn-out pair of jeans into a cute upcycled denim basket!


  1. At least two pairs of jeans that are different shades
  2. A small bowl
  3. Hot glue
  4. Scissors
  5. Clipboard

Craft materialopens IMAGE file


  1. Find two pairs of jeans that are different shades.
  2. Cut the denim into strips of 1.5 to 2 centimeters.
    cut denim into stripsopens IMAGE file
  3. Grab three strips. Ensure that at least one of the strips is a different shade from the other two strips.
  4. Clip three strips onto a clipboard.
  5. Braid all three strips together.
    braid denim strips togetheropens IMAGE file
  6. Sew or glue three more strips onto the end of the braid and repeat to lengthen the cord.
    glue denim strips together to lengthen cordopens IMAGE file
  7. With the bowl facing down, glue or tape the braid to the bottom of the bowl.
    Coil denim around bowl to shape it, gluing together as you wrap itopens IMAGE file
  8. Start coiling the braid of denim around the bowl and glue them together.
    continue wrapping the denim and gluing it together, using the bowl as a mouldopens IMAGE file
  9. Your bowl is now complete! Place the bowl on top of a tile if you want to use it as a centerpiece.
    finished braided bowl!opens IMAGE file

Single tiles can be found at our store, EcoBuilding Bargains in Springfield, the largest reclaimed building materials store in New England!

Make sure to check out our blog for other creative reuse projects.