“Waste not, want not” has only rarely held as true as it does in the current day. Ecologically-responsible folk can't afford to assault the earth further with garbage composed of decomposition-resistant materials or anything that can be remade and reused. Some of the easiest upcycling materials can be found in your own closet.
Upcycle Old Teeshirts
Teeshirts have become a ubiquitous aspect of world culture. Preventing them from taking up space in landfills is well worth the ecological effects, but its also a great deal of fun. Teeshirt art and logos can be cut out and sewn onto other pieces of apparel like patches, glued at their backs to harden them and glued onto pins, or even made into jewelry with earring hooks and necklace charm clasps.
DIY gurus like the cast and forum members at Threadbanger have a slew of tips that would keep you more giddily busy than you might imagine, but you can also invest in books like power-diy team Carmia Marshall and Carmen Webber's “20 Transformations for Fabulous Fashion” and Megan Nicolay's “Generation T: 108 ways To Transform a T-Shirt” for direct ideas and patterns that produce upcycled versions of tank tops, skirts, sleevelets, fingerless gloves, and a wide range of possibilities too lengthy to name, including a wedding dress with upcycled roses (your eyes aren't deceiving you)..
Deconstruct and Upcycle Denim
Upcycled denim makes for some fairly amazing skirts, purses, vests, coats, hats, pillows, chair covers, patchwork shorts, and a myriad of other options. Admittedly, denim upcycling is best done with a sewing machine, or better yet, a serger, but you can still create patchwork wonders you'll love with recycled denim materials with a strong needle and a bit of determination.
When Creations Pile Up, Go Semi-Professional
Upcycling does the planet good, but you can end up with piles of lovely items you have no use for after awhile. Giving them to people that do is a generous option for finding them a home, but charging a modest fee can be a great help in a straining economy. It's worth its weight in gold upcycling eco-friendly wares to fill the world's demand, and making enough of a profit to take the pain out of financial burdens is more than okay.
There are a few ways to get started:
Consider opening a shop on the Etsy site and build your brand little by little.
List your products and services in the Artfire community.
Set up a profile on the Peoplestox site and take custom orders.
Sell upcycled goods and/or old tees and clothes for other upcyclers to use as materials for their projects
If you like writing how-tos and articles, set up a blog or photocopied and folded zine periodical that also lists your products and services.
You'd be surprised how quickly you'll gain interest for sustainable goods. Considering a side-business in upcycling is a worthy investment of your time if you find you enjoy it enough to do it regularly.