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6 Creative Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Old T-Shirt

By Maria Cook

Thanks to their general affordability and famous comfort, T-shirts serve as wardrobe staples for many. But what to do when you run across a tee at the back of the closet that no longer suits your needs, whether it has grown threadbare, is no longer your size, or simply serves as a reminder of a band you'd rather forget? For convenience's sake, it may be tempting to toss it in the trash, especially if it didn't cost that much in the first place. But throwing clothing in the trash only adds to the world's waste problem, taking up even more room in already overcrowded landfills. In fact, according to PBS, Americans throw out over 13 million tons of clothing every year. 

Luckily, old tees don't necessarily have to leave your closet--they can simply become something different to wear or use. Upcycled clothing is in style, so much so that many online sellers mention it as a selling point. And the great news is, even if you have little to no sewing skills, you can turn your retired shirts into other clothing items with the help of easy-to-follow online tutorials. Don't want to sew? Worry not: There are plenty of simple DIY solutions that don't require a single stitch. 

Here are six approaches to get you started, and to keep that crumbled old shirt out of the landfill.

1. Transform it into an accessory or new clothing item.

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Consider changing your tee into a trendy infinity scarf. You won't even need to go near a needle and thread; the only supplies required are your top and a pair of scissors. Simply by cutting strips off of your tee and linking them together with a large knot, you'll have a one-of-a-kind scarf. Just don't forget to consider where you're cutting! For example, if your shirt has a logo that you don't want to incorporate into your scarf's design, plan ahead and cut accordingly! For a step-by-step guide to help you through the process, try this five step tutorial from Instructables

2. Create a new handbag for whatever use you need.

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Most eco-conscious people know the importance of using reusable shopping bags whenever possible. Instead of purchasing a reusable bag from the grocery store on your next visit, why not create a bag by reusing the old tee you already have? This handy tutorial from HGTV offers two options for creating what it calls "fruit and veggie bags"--an option which requires sewing, and an option which does not. The level of complexity you choose to undertake in this project is entirely up to you, as is what you choose to carry in your new bag!

3. Make a new toy for your favorite furry friend.

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Whether you own a dog or a cat, an old shirt can be just the thing to bring your pet a little joy. Two tops and a pair of scissors is all you'll need to create a "rope bone" for a dog, for example. Or, in the case of a cat, a "feather teaser," which can be waved in the air, thrown, or wrestled with as much as your furry friend desires. For simple instructions on how to create a toy your pet will love, try this tutorial from Barkpost Stories