8 Ways to Reuse Your Jeans

blue jeans torn out at both knees knees

How much do you pay for a pair of jeans? Is it $20, $50, $250 … $46,532?

No, that wasn’t a typo. That last number may seem insane, but in 2001, Levi Strauss & Co. paid just that. The company purchased a pair of their own jeans from eBay. The jeans were from a Nevada mining town and hailed all the way from the 1880s.

Although most people will probably never spend that much on some ol’ blues, it does remind us that jeans are a very iconic part of our culture.

So, if it’s safe to say that some of us are pretty attached to our jeans,  it’s even safer to say that almost everyone has a pair. In turn, almost everyone will have to deal with the dreaded decision to move on from that favorite pair, even if it may be barely intact. But what next?

In addition to sentimental strings keeping you from tossing them in the trash, jean production itself takes up quite a bit of natural resources and makes it important to think twice before giving them the boot. Just to give you an idea, it takes about 1,500 gallons of water to grow the cotton used to make only one pair.

These factors, plus the grand fact that reuse saves money, leads us to believe that fully utilizing this classic fashion item just makes sense (cents?). So, here are 8 ways to give those blue jeans a second chance.

1. Jeans Don’t Grow on Trees … Well, Maybe

Using jeans and leftover fabric as gift wrap has always been a fun alternative to the gobs of paper that can be taken up by traditional present presentations. However, if wrapping some denim and ribbon around a gift isn’t detailed enough for you, take it to the next level by actually turning those jeans into paper!

A bit more advanced than, say, your average tote bag, this paper project is perfect for those that are up for a challenge or if you just really like the recipient of the above-mentioned gift! Monkeysee.com breaks it down for you in a series of how-to videos.

2. These Jeans Were Made for Walking

Not necessarily for your next hiking trip, these adorable little jean slippers are the perfect option for around the house, a quick trip to the store or for a leisurely fall bike ride. The hand stitching also makes them low tech and easy for those of us who aren’t master seamsters! Thanks to wikiHow for the step-by-step instructions!

3. Cozy Up

Everywhere you go people are talking reusable. And since most of us go to coffee shops at least once a week, or once every day, “reusable” has become quite the buzzword surrounding our classic cups of caffeine cravings.

You may have more mugs than you probably know what to do with, and since you may sometimes forget those mugs, having a reusable option that fits perfectly in your bag and doesn’t need washing can really come in handy.

Ta-da … the jean coffee cozy is here! So adorable and useful, what more could you ask for? Check out these instructions for an easy to make denim cup cozy from Exquisitely Unremarkable.

4. Quite a Feet: Denim Floormat

As with any material-based reuse option, a rug or floormat is a really great choice for your next project.

If you’ve experimented with T-shirts, using jeans should be a breeze. If you’re new at it, don’t fret, help is here!  Most involve creating strips from the jeans and either weaving them together or sewing.

Check out this design from Instructables.com that relies more on the odds-and-end pieces, a perfect use for the leftover strips after you’ve made some jean sandals!

5. Heat It Up

When all else fails, make a pot-holder! These are always needed and store-bought ones can often lack personal flare.

The detail on these little kitchen-helpers that make them even better are their built-in “gloves” or pockets.  For some basic guidelines, take a gander at MakeandTakes.com.

6. Handbags and Such

A bag is a classic and easy reuse go-to. It can be made out of pretty much anything (remember the messenger bag crafted from layers of plastic bags?) and is always handy to have around.  The best part about jeans as the reuse item of choice is their flexibility, fashionable look and built-in pockets and zippers. Try different designs and uses, including:

  • MP3, iPod or iPhone holder
  • Cosmetic bag
  • Reusable shopping tote
  • Mini backpack
  • Clutch
  • Pencil bag
  • Lunch box

Threadbanger.com has a wonderful video breaking down how to make a jean handbag.

7. This Board Ain’t Bored

Keeping things straight at work, school or home can be quite a challenge, so anytime an organizational tool (one that isn’t a total bore) can be created, we get pretty excited. Enter: the classic bulletin board.

An easy craft that can vary depending on your skill level, this reuse project makes a great gift for just about anyone. Check out this basic approach from DIY Network and then take it in your own personalized direction.

Get closer to your best friend! Make them the perfect chew toy while saving money! Photo: Flickr/Randy Son Of Robert

Give your best friend a treat while saving a buck or two. Photo: Flickr/Randy Son Of Robert

8. Barking Up the Right Tree

One of the most disappointing parts of reuse is when you present your long-labored project and others, how do we say it, aren’t as excited as you are.

Well, if the fear of a less-than grand reception is in the back of your mind, this reuse project is a guaranteed gratitude getter!

Dogs, cats and tons of other animal varieties love to receive new treasures to toss around or just shred to pieces. Jeans make greats toys for this purpose, based on their durability and flexibility. Instructables has ya covered with this denim, no-sew homemade pet toy. Go fetch!

Feature image by Anita S. from Pixabay

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  1. I would like to find any recyle place in my area. Since Katrina there are none. We live in the St. Tammany area of La. I have newspaper,magazines, plastic, clothing. Thank You, Carmel

  2. You could always donate your jeans to someone who needs them. Repairing them and keeping them a pair of jeans would probably be the best thing in my opinion. Saves time and could help out the less fortunate people out there. Sometimes I wonder what the fascination is about reusing things by changing something into something else, instead of reusing as it was already intended.

  3. Carmel, you should work with your local government to bring recycling to your area. Don’t wait for someone else to make something happen, you can make a difference by speaking up and working on it yourself. Talk to friends and neighbors and maybe get the local media involved.

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