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Low waste and high fun: Ways to refurbish clothes so you don’t need to buy new ones

Here are seven fun ways to refurbish your clothes!

Everyone is familiar with this situation — you’re bored of your clothes, there’s nothing exciting to wear, and you think the remedy is to go out and buy something new. However, buying new clothes doesn’t even improve your mood for longer than a few days, sometimes even a few hours. 

Instead, this so-called retail therapy causes us to waste our money and accumulate more unneeded products. Waste levels on the planet are climbing at rapid rates, especially in terms of clothing and textiles. Instead of searching to find a new piece that adheres to whatever the latest trend is, it could be worth it to attempt a little DIY and alter your clothes to the exact way you want them. This saves time, money, clutter, and environmental waste

If you want to change your shopping habits into alteration habits, here are a few repurposing activities you can try for when you feel the itch of closet boredom.


We all experience the age-old problem of having “nothing” to wear, when in reality we have tons. But,  nothing is exactly the way we’d like it to be.

Instead of sluffing it off to the donation pile, try to cut, sew, and alter your pieces to a version that you would actually wear. Hem pants to shorts, create scoop-neck necklines out of crewnecks, hem long-sleeves to T-shirts or tank tops, crop dresses into tops and skirts — if you don’t like something you own, change it so that you do!


Cut up old clothing with pretty patterns or sentimental meaning to fully transform what once was and create something new and useful. This could be a meaningful quilt, a pretty patchwork bag, or mittens out of an old fleece sweater. You could make a pillow from a funny T-shirt, or use fabric scraps to create a little foot stool.


Even if your clothing is holed from years of use, don’t give up on it yet! Make it cute and usable again, ready to make new rips and holes. Use colourful threads or patches of fabric to repair threadbare or ripped pant-knees and sweater-elbows. And, if sewing isn’t your thing, there are versions of washable fabric glue you can use to attach your patches.


Use your old clothes and scrap fabric as stuffing! Restuff a couch that’s losing its bounce, fill up the aforementioned foot stool with old scraps and unwearable clothes. Or even cut up an old sweater into little pieces and use it to stuff a DIY stuffed animal.


Love the fit and feel of a shirt but hate the colour? Change it by using environmentally-friendly dye! You can either use store-bought Rit dye, or try your hand at creating natural dyes out of fruits and vegetable skins.


Put your unused cotton T-shirts to use and make DIY beeswax wraps. You only need four pieces of supplies: a piece of fabric, wax paper, an iron, and beeswax. Lay out your piece of fabric and grate the beeswax on top. Then, lay your piece of wax paper on top and run your iron over it until it melts. Let it dry and cool and then you have a reusable wrap to use for yourself or to give as a gift! This is a quick and easy activity that is doubly low-waste — you use up your unused clothes and eliminate your need to use wasteful plastic wraps in the future!


Spice up your basics by using fun coloured threads to embroider or needlepoint pictures, designs, or words onto an otherwise plain and boring shirt.


The best way to revamp your look without spending money or spending time altering or decorating is to simply swap the clothes you’re bored of with your friends’ clothes. Organize a time and place and invite a few of your friends to bring five to 10 pieces of clothing they don’t want to hang onto. You do the same, and together you can “shop” through each other’s clothing. This way you can get the feeling of new without spending money. After all, one person’s trash is another one’s treasure!

There are a multitude of ways to refurbish your wardrobe without adding to the textile waste accumulation. Get together with friends and family to try out some of these arts and crafts activities and see for yourself what can be done to help end the fast-fashion cycle.

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