Lifestyle | Fabric Recycling (for super tricky materials)!

Have you seen this magical stuff?

This is denim housing insulation made from recycled, you guessed it, blue jeans. Cotton is a natural and renewable resource which makes it a great candidate for eco-friendly building materials. Thanks to several fashion retailers, like Madewell & Levi’s, it’s becoming easier to recycle and transform into an eco-lining for your home.

But enough about denim! Our real issue at cinder + salt is fabric scrap. When we say we’re zero waste, we mean it, which means we have a lot of unusable textiles we need to find a responsible reiteration for.

Here’s a quick preview of what we use :

-T-Shirts for test prints - we use defective tees to test all of our prints before starting a job. Each scrap tee will get used upwards of 10 times.


- Fabric scraps from hand-sewn items - we keep every little shred of thread from our sewing studio and use it as stuffing for our plushie ornaments. Larger scraps we use to create one-of-a-kind higher end items like our scrappy pillows. For all the scraps in between we keep collection baskets so that we have fabric when we need it. But truthfully it’s getting a little out of control.

RAGS! - We really give these little guys a run for their money. First, we use them to clean our screens on the press. Once they’re completely absorbed with inks and cleaners, we run them through the dryer to cure the chemicals. Next we use the rags to clean our ink jars and knives after each use. This is a necessary evil (i hate cleaning) so we make sure we use previously used rags for this part. Lastly, they become padding under our drainage mats in our wash room which can get pretty nasty. This is where we keep our pressure washer and do all our heavy cleaning so with their last breath, these rags absorb gross water off the floor and keep our space clean. Then…. They move to the “DEAD RAGS” box.

While the life-cycle of our fabrics is pretty extensive, I couldn’t throw our textile waste away… so I spent an exhaustive 4 hours finding the a solution : Simple Recycling.

Simple Recycling makes it easy for you to unload all kinds of textile waste right from home, ranging from denim and apparel, to sneakers, purses and all sorts of accessories. Simple Recycling isn’t offered everywhere, so check out their list of participating cities to see if it’s the right solution for you. And if not, check the towns of all your friends and family so you can piggyback! #justsaying

Their website looked fine and good but my scraps are not typical so I emailed Simple Recycling to see if they could take scraps from our seamstress, as well as laundered rags covered in cured ink. Their answer…. YES! I ordered 3 bags on the spot and eagerly awaited their delivery for 2 weeks. The morning they arrived, in 20 short minutes, I had 54lbs and 6oz of fabric scraps bagged up and ready to go just from my home studio!

I know that having 54 pounds of fabric scrap at my home kinda says some weird stuff about me as a person (to be clear, this was literally just shreds of fabric - no clothes, shoes, etc…. just random fabric), but it was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever done as an artist and eco-activist. I was starting to feel like i was drowning in materials but had less and less time to create artwork. I had to purge, but I needed to do it responsibly, and Simple Recycling was the solution I needed. Needless to say I’ve requested 3 more bags and am excited to see how much the company will recycle in 2019.

How do you upcycle your old clothes & textile waste? Leave a comment with photos or ideas!


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