Denim + Couture

How to Recycle Your Jeans with Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ Program

by Lani Kim

Blue Jeans Go Green™ White House Black Market

One of the most exciting things about fashion is the thrill of a new find. When there’s a fresh new look in denim—like this season’s flattering, figure-shaping skinny flare—it’s only natural to want to fill your closet with your new favorite jeans, in every rinse and rise.  

But what happens to the old jeans, the ones you’re not wearing anymore? Maybe you stick yours in the back of your closet, waiting for the day when they’re in style again. (Word to the wise: Fashion always evolves, so even when an old trend “comes back,” it’s never completely the same. Case in point: The bootcut leg we’re seeing today is much more sculpted and body conscious than that early 2000s look.) 

Or perhaps you’re in the habit of giving clothes you no longer wear to your favorite charitable organization. If you simply throw away your old clothes, along with the rest of your trash, well, you wouldn’t be the only one, either. 


The sad truth is that whether you give away your old jeans or throw them away, they have a very high likelihood of ending up in a landfill, just like all of those water bottles tossed into blue recycling bins (80 percent of which end up meeting a not-very-eco-friendly demise.) The average consumer disposes of 70 pounds of textiles per person per year, according to Cotton Incorporated’s 2020 Lifestyle Monitor survey. 

Is the only eco-friendly solution, then, to resign yourself to wearing the jeans you own in perpetuity—or leaving them to collect dust in the back of your closet—even when they’re no longer in style? Absolutely not! You deserve to enjoy that brand-new-denim feeling. 


Introducing a better, more eco-conscious way to declutter your closet of those jeans you no longer love—denim recycling, in which worn jeans are given new life in other products, ranging from pet beds to packaging materials.  

Beginning in 2022, White House Black Market is teaming up with Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ denim recycling program to launch Give Back: Recycle Your Jeans with WHBM®, a program that will help prevent millions of pounds of textiles from taking up a permanent residence in our already over-crowded landfills.  

Not only that, but your old jeans will be transformed into insulating material used in various applications such as insulation in pet bed inserts, industrial mattresses, food shipping boxes and homes that are constructed for Habitat for Humanity affiliates and other community building endeavors.  

Over the years, insulation from Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ program has been given to museums, performing arts centers, universities, and even “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” 

So, instead of your old jeans taking up space in your closet, they can be repurposed to create something new. 


what happens to recycled jeans?

Just as paper and plastic can be broken down and reformulated into brand-new products, high cotton-content denim can be reduced back down to its original cotton fiber state and put to new use. 

Whether your recycled denim ends up in a house or a museum, or as part of a pet bed or insulating your food delivery box  we can agree that turning old worn denim into something useful is a better destination than permanent residence in a landfill.  

The chemicals that are emitted from those giant trash pits can cause pollution of the air and water, not to mention health consequences for all living creatures in our ecosystem, including animals and people. 


recycling jeans

Are you ready to recycle your old jeans—and make both the world (and your closet) a better place? Good news—this is one good deed that couldn’t be easier to do.  

Just bring any unwanted old jeans to White House Black Market, and the boutique will take care of the rest. Plus, you’ll get a $20 credit you can use towards your new favorite jeans! 

Talk about a win-win: with one drop-off of jeans you no longer wear, you’ve decluttered your closet, helped prevent more textiles from crowding landfills, helped create something new…and scored $20 off new denim! We highly recommend you reward yourself with a well-deserved shopping trip. 


Jeans with embellishments can be recycled

Most jeans are no longer 100% cotton. At White House Black Market, we long ago discovered how blending in a bit of Lycra® can sculpt your figure to its most flattering advantage. Not only that, but studded embellishments, lace patches, and other details are popular ways to elevate your basic blue jeans; usually, these add-ons are not made from cotton, either. 

Fortunately, high cotton-content denim can be recycled. Check the label to know what your jeans are made of.  As long as the jeans are at least 90% cotton, your jeans can be put to good use.  (This even applies to those denim trends from long ago that took the “bedazzling” a little bit too far!)  

So go ahead, recycle those overly embroidered vestiges of the past, and make room in your closet for something exciting and new. 


Sustainable denim can be very fashion-forward

While we’re talking about your environmental fashion footprint, take a minute to think about what’s going into those new jeans you’re buying to replace the ones you’ve parted with. They, too, can be produced using sustainable practices. 

Did you know that in fact some of the most fashionable denim is sustainable? White House Black Market uses recycled materials for some of its most on-trend denim looks, ranging from classic skinny jeans to curve-contouring Everyday Sculpt, to bold and colorful rinses. 

You’ll even find belted denim dresses, jumpsuits, and cutting-edge looks like corset high rise jeans—all made from recycled materials. 


When to get rid of jeans

So now that you know what to do with old denim, how do you know when it’s time for a pair of jeans to go? The answer is “now” if you answer yes to any of the following questions: 

  • Do you feel unfashionable when you wear the jeans? Even if you don’t keep up with the latest denim styles, if you feel like you’re behind the times in your jeans, it’s probably time to upgrade to a more on-trend look. 
  • Are the jeans too worn to wear? True, ripped jeans can be a “look,” but not all denim stands the test of time—and you might be better off finding a new, stylishly destructed pair of jeans. If your jeans are frayed, discolored, stained, or otherwise unwearable, consider recycling them. 
  • Do the jeans still fit…comfortably? If they’re too baggy, too tight, or just don’t feel great after you’ve been sitting in them all day, it’s time to recycle them. There are so many more comfortable denim options out there! 
  • Has it been more than six months since you wore your jeans? There’s a reason why these jeans aren’t the first thing you reach for when you get dressed. It’s time to say good-bye to whatever is holding you back. 
  • Are you hanging on to denim because you’re planning to lose weight? Keeping clothes that are the wrong size can be deflating. Instead, dress (and love) the body you have, and as you hit weight loss milestones, reward yourself with a fabulous new pair of jeans!  

Once you’ve recycled the jeans you no longer wear, have fun buying brand-new denim in the latest style that looks and feels great.  

Blue Jeans Go Green™ is a trademark of Cotton Incorporated. 

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