Don’t Throw Out Your Old Bras! Try These 8 Sustainable Hacks Instead

We're answering your toughest sustainability questions! Ask us via Facebook, Twitter or email.

This week, Elisa Goff has asked, "What to do with old bras?"

This is a wonderful question Elisa! Textile waste is a growing problem, finding innovative ways to re-use textile items like bras an important challenge to tackle. Effectively re-using old clothes is one step closer to a zero-waste, low-carbon lifestyle.

The Textile Waste Problem:

Did you know that according to the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries Australia, clothing is the fastest-growing household waste? On average, each of us throw out about 30kg of clothing and textile items a year!

Unlike some categories of waste, clothing is particularly difficult to recover from landfill. In a report, the ABS has outlined that textiles are considered "too costly or difficult to recover." It also outlined that 501,000 tonnes (or 88%) of leather and textiles were sent to landfill in 2009-10.

Our disposable attitude towards clothes is hugely costly the planet, and our hip-pockets too. Nowadays, the textile industry is now one of the largest producers of greenhouse gasses on Earth. As it stands, our planet simply cannot sustain the amount of clothes and other textiles the global market is consuming. The average household spends a huge $2,600 per year on clothing, footwear and accessories!

So what do we, as individuals, do about this pressing issue? We take responsibility for the problem, and proactively make changes in our lives. We look for a better ways to do things, just like Elisa has. Good on you Elisa!

8 Planet-Strong Ways With Old Bras:

The good news is up to 95% of clothing can be re-used or recycled, including bras! Check out these 10 ways with old bras, and never send a bra to land-fill again.

  1. Donate a lightly-worn bra to a woman in need:

If you're doing a closet cleanse and decide you no longer want or need a lightly worn bra, this is the perfect solution. For some women in disadvantaged communities, bras can be unobtainable or unaffordable. Luckily, a few organisations exist which will take donated bras, and distribute them to these women. The Uplift Project have sound ethical standards, and send bras in biodegradable packaging, as well as aim not to compete with local businesses. Other great bra gifting options include Against Breast Cancer, the Breast Cancer Campaign and Oxfam.

Image: The Uplift Project

2. Donate a lightly-worn bra to your local op-shop/thrift store:

Many people who are experience financial hardship rely on Op Shops for clothing, and increasingly, shoppers are choosing op-shops as a plant strong option. Just make sure your bra is in near-new condition, and is totally clean.

3. Recycle old bras:

If your old bra is not suitable for re-use but is clean and made of an absorbent material, consider recycling it. Yep, you can recycle fabrics! These garments can be used again as an industrial rag or textile by-product. This online resource will point you towards recycling operators near you.

4. Bras in the Garden…Who knew!

Did you know you can compost cotton fabrics? Check out this guide to turn old clothes into useful compost. You could also use bra cups in the garden to hold melons, cantaloupes or small pumpkins to hold them from falling to the ground.

5. Re-purpose your old bra into a new purse:

Fancy yourself a new purse/small shoulder bag? Grab your old bra, and get the sewing kit out! You can add embellishments to disguise the bra's previous life, or, if your bra is pretty, leave it by itself. This DIY tutorial should give you an idea of how to go about it.

6. Add support to a top/dress or make a new one:

Ever had a top that you can't wear because it doesn't have the support that you need? Well, consider your problem solved. Take out the padding of your old bra and sew into your backless tops or dresses. Or, use some fabric you have lying around to make a new top like the fringed one below.

7. Give your bras a fresh new life: Jazz-up or repair

Perhaps there's nothing wrong with your bra, but you're a little bored of it in it's current state. Or maybe there's a little niggle that needs fixing. No worries! You can give your bra a makeover by getting a little crafty with a needle, scissors, and the internet of course. These DIY's will inspire you to give your bra a second life, and this tutorial will show you how to fix an broken underwire!

8. For the pet-lovers: DIY dog/cat play ball

Yep, you can up-cycle your old bras into a play ball for you pet! Your furry animal friends and the planet will appreciate this one. Simply stitch 4 cups together to make a ball with some stuffing inside, and voila. Happy pet, happy earth.

Image: Flickr

Banner image: Shutterstock

Read this next: [VIDEO] the REAL cost of cheap fashion

Read this next: How To Wear Your Clothes Like A Stylist

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Maddie Burkitt Social Media Intern Suggest an article Send us an email

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