By Morgan Fechter
Image by Retrolace

Did you know that 8% of the world’s yearly greenhouse gas emissions are created by the fashion and footwear industries? Put in context, that number is harrowing. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reports that the emissions created by the industry are greater than all international flights and shipping combined.

So how can we stay stylish while also reducing our carbon footprints? Enter: upcycling. Also called refashioning, this concept involves taking old clothing and turning it into something new. You can find blogs and Pinterest boards dedicated to this thrifty craft, where budget and environmentally conscious fashionistas transform old or outsized clothing into unique creations.

There are three main ways to get started on your own upcycling project:

  1. Find an item of clothing in your closet that no longer fits/you never wear.
  2. Take a trip to your local consignment store (walk or bike if you can!)
  3. Ask your family/roommates if they have any clothing they no longer want (oversized men’s shirts are great!)

Next, think about what kind of look you’d like to achieve. Decide on the level of effort you’d like to put in based on your time and skill level. If you have a sewing machine – great! That will allow you to sew up frayed hems and make more drastic changes. If all you have is a pair of scissors, that’s great too!

One idea that I love is the athletic jersey/varsity jacket look. You can emblazon a plain denim jacket or sweatshirt with your name, favorite word, or slogan by cutting up old t shirts with words on them. I know I personally have way too many t shirts from fun runs, school plays, and the like that I never wear. Take a pair of scissors and cut out the letters individually, and then shuffle them together to see what you can write!

Rather than hitting “add to cart” on clothing from mega-retailers this Black Friday, treat yourself by refashioning an existing item of clothing from your closet. The planet (and your wallet!) will thank you.