If You Have Fabric Scraps Lying Around Your Craft Room, Here's How to Recycle Them

Repurpose, reuse, and recycle your fabric scraps.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Jul. 10 2024, Published 3:07 p.m. ET

A crafter uses scissors to cut into orange fabric scraps.
Source: iStock

Savvy crafters and DIYers know that sustainably made fabric scraps can be used for many purposes. Eventually, however, too many miscellaneous fabric scraps of varying sizes might be difficult to incorporate into your next DIY project.

Crafters who do their best to lead a zero-waste and eco-friendly lifestyle will appreciate the tips below to find unexpected ways to help your fabric scraps avoid ending up in a landfill.

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Whether you choose to recycle your fabric scraps or repurpose them, check out the nifty ideas below for your mismatching fabric scraps that are no longer needed.

Fabrics made from natural materials can be composted.

Two large, brown compost bins with the words "Compost" and "Department of Education Custodial Staff Use Only" are pictured outside of a school in Harlem, New York.
Source: iStock

According to A Rose Tinted World, if your fabric scraps are composed of natural fibers like 100 percent cotton, hemp, bamboo, or linen, they are suitable for your compost bin.

Not all items are compostable, however, so you'll want to consult with your local body that oversees composting and recycling to discuss ordinances if you are a frequent municipal composter in the city.

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Retold Recycling offers a Scraps Bag to recycle fabric scraps.

Intended for those who quilt, sew, crochet, and work with different textiles, Retold Recycling's Scraps Bag is an excellent and affordable option to recycle fabric scraps. The bag, launched in July 2024, can hold up to 5 pounds of weight thanks to its formidable size and is comparable to a pillowcase.

Retold Recycling may sound familiar from its appearance on the show Shark Tank. Per the brand, 160 tons of waste have been saved from landfills since its inception.

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TerraCycle can help you recycle fabric scraps made from synthetic materials.

If your fabric scraps are coated in a chemical like polyurethane, made from plastics, or filled with a material that isn't biodegradable or compostable or would otherwise be rejected by a textile recycling service, services like TerraCycleprovide a zero-waste solution for these types of materials.

TerraCycle's Zero Waste Box is a unique and eco-friendly solution for fabrics of this nature. Be sure to consult with them first if you have questions about the nature of the fabrics you're sending.

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Upcycle your fabric scraps with creative DIY projects.

A quilt is pictured with several narrow strips made from different fabric scraps.
Source: iStock

While some great fashion brands seek to close the loop, incorporate fabric scraps in their products, and eliminate the massive waste produced by the fast fashion industry, savvy DIYers can incorporate fabric scraps in various projects at home, according to the blog Sarah Hearts. Among the many uses for fabric scraps, Sarah Hearts suggests creating:

  • Fabric scrap storage bins
  • Large headbands with fabric bows
  • Scrunchies
  • Wire headbands
  • Hair bows
  • Reusable wipes for makeup
  • A quilt
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Some fashion retailers and charities can help you recycle your mismatched fabric scraps.

A young woman holds a brown box labeled "Donation" full of old clothes and fabric scraps intended to be recycled.
Source: iStock

According to the American Sewing Guild (ASG), some charities and fashion retailers may offer programs to help you recycle your old textiles and fabric scraps. One such business mentioned by the ASG, fashion retailer H&M, has a program to recycle old clothes and textiles, offering customers a coupon in exchange for their help to close the loop.

You'll want to call stores and charities ahead of time to ensure they have the means to accept and recycle your fabric scraps, just to be safe.

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