Different Ways to Recycle Printed T-Shirts

Moms know all too well how quickly children outgrow clothing. Buy something today and by next month it doesn’t fit. While you can take your outgrown kids’ clothes to Goodwill, give them to friends or sell them in a tag sale, you can also upcycle them into great new items! Here are some great, green ways you can get “rid” of those printed T-shirts once your kids have outgrown them!


By cutting your old T-shirts into strips, you can knit, crochet or even finger-weave them into scarves. If you’ve left your house to go anywhere, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that scarves are being worn for more than warmth; they’re the newest fashion accessory. Get cutting!

Tote Bag

T-shirts can be up cycled into great, light-weight tote bags if you’re handy with a sewing machine. You won’t be able to cart around a bag full of books but you can use your tote to carry diapers, a magazine or two or even your wallet and essentials. Find a printed shirt you like or that holds fond memories and transform it into a bag you can carry with you every day.


If you’ve got hard flooring, you know how nice a rug or two can be. Not only do they keep your feet warm but they give your jars, phones and other breakables a soft place to land. Cut your shirts into strips and braid them into colorful throw rugs. If you don’t want to braid, simply knot them strategically; it’s easy as pie!


If you quilt, you’ve got an instant stash of material in your kids’ old T-shirts. Cut them apart just as you would any other fabric and sew them into any pattern you wish. T-shirts make fabulous rag quilts and will give your sofa a bright, casual look when draped over the back.


If you live with little boys, no doubt you’ve wished you had a green way to make their shoe closet smell better! Cut off the sleeves of your T-shirts, turn them inside out and sew one end shut. Turn right-side out, fill with lavender potpourri and fasten the top end with Velcro or sew it shut; you choose! When you need to refresh the scent, simply shake up your sachet or gently squeeze it.


Another project for those handy with a sewing machine! Take a few old T-shirts and fashion them into a layered or tiered skirt. These skirts look great with a pair of leggings and flip-flops in the summer and are easy to wear. A T-shirt skirt is perfect for a casual weekend and, best of all, can be tossed in the wash and easily laundered.

Tech Case

Whether you need soft spot for your laptop or mobile phone, you can create one that is perfect out of an old T-shirt. You may need to find a pattern if you can’t come up with your own, but with a T-shirt and a bit of batting, you can sew the perfect protector for your tech device.

There’s no reason not to use some of those old, printed T-shirts to create something eco-fabulous! If you’ve got a crafty side, take a new look at those old T’s and see what you can come up with creatively.

About the Author

Sylvia Patterson is a marketing consultant for small businesses and she suggests that printed t-shirts are one of the most cost effective ways to get your name out in front of the general public.

*Image courtesy of Ruffled T-Shirt Scarf by ecokarenlee, on Flickr.*