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Best Re-uses of Clothing From Around the World

Updated on November 29, 2010

When clothing gets old and worn, people often just throw it away or—at best—tear it up for rags. Here are four of the best uses for products made out of recycled clothing, showcasing traditional garb from around the world. (There's also a bonus fifth "product"—it's a piece of art that is not actually purchasable, but it's too wild not to include!)

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1. Recycled Sari Throw Blankets, Bed Covers, and Scarves

Saris (or sarees) are the traditional clothing of India, as well as Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Burma, and Malaysia. They are often very colorful and printed with geometric or ornamental designs.

A Trade For A Trade carries bed covers, throw blankets, and scarves created from recycled cotton saris. All are hand-stitched together using traditional kantha embroidery techniques. The result is a beautiful and one-of-a-kind decoration that is not only eco-friendly, but stylish as well.

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2. Repurposed Kimono Bags

Kimonos are a part of Japan's cultural heritage and, while not worn very often any more, are still a relevant and cherished part of its history. They are worn with a wide obi belt and come in a variety of patterns and colors, often reflecting the season in which the kimono should be worn. Traditionally, they are sewn by hand, the time and energy investment of which makes their re-use even more important.

These bags by Attic Japan are handcrafted using vintage Japanese kimono and obi pieces. They take the alluring romance of historical Japan and pour it into a modern accessory created for both celebrations and everyday wear.

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3. Recycled Huipil Baby Booties

Huipil is the traditional shirt of Mayan women. They usually have decorative stitching and elaborate patterns, which symbolize the woman's marital status, village, and personal beliefs.

Chi Chi Amor makes a variety of products out of recycled cotton huipil, including these adorable baby booties. They come in many different colors and designs, and make the perfect gift for your own infant or the friend/family member who just had a baby.

4. Reprocessed Denim Pencils

While not strictly a "traditional" piece of clothing for any one area, denim is used world-wide for a variety of clothing, and has been in American usage since the 18th century. For our purposes, we'll consider it a cultural fabric for the Western world.

Most of us have at least a couple of pairs of jeans, which often wear out and are thrown away. However, not everyone just tosses their denim aside. You can now buy recycled denim pencils, created using 20-33% recycled blue denim jeans that have been ground up and processed. The remainder is recycled post-consumer paper, making a great and inexpensive eco-friendly gift or item for your workspace.

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Bonus: Melted Clothing Chair

These "Meltdown Chairs" are created by Tom Price. He makes them by placing layers of polyester clothing upon a hot steel seat-shaped former. As the fabric melts, it exposes and integrates colors and patterns of the various layers.

We don't recommend trying to create these at home. Although it would be a great way to get rid of your spouse's old clothes, some things are just not DIY.


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