Give a darn about t-shirt yarn.

By: Laura Kraus, Spare Parts Volunteer Coordinator

One of the first memories I had of visiting my grandparents in California were the amazing t-shirt rugs made by my great grandmother. Spiraled up and tightly braided, they were multicolored, cushy things perfect for digging your bare toes into as you noted all the work that went into them. Of course, at the time I didn’t pay attention to the work. It was only years later, when I actually attempted to make one that I fully appreciated what goes into a braided t-shirt rug. And I’m not just talking about the braiding and sewing together of the t-shirt yarn! Have you ever stopped and thought about what goes into making a plain old t-shirt?

It takes about 400 – 600 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a t-shirt. This really surprised me, as well as scared me, considering how abundant t-shirts are in our society. That’s a lot of water. According to an article in the Economist, making 1kg of fabric of any kind generates 23kg of greenhouse gases on average. Further research on the website Mental Floss led to this surprising information about how a t-shirt is made and where all it has to travel to become the t-shirt that you see in a store: After the cotton is grown on a farm in one part of the world, a process that requires large amounts of water and pesticides, it needs to be treated, woven, and dyed at a facility, sometimes in a totally separate country.

Yes, this is depressing, but we can do something about it, and as a matter of fact, there are people who already are, like Alex Eaves, who made a business out of reusing old t-shirts. He even made a documentary called, “Reuse! Because you can’t recycle the planet” and Spare Parts is featured in it. Eaves prints his message on old t-shirts and sells them to help fund his cause.

What can you personally do about it? Refuse fast fashion. Reuse once you wear out your favorite t-shirt by making it into t-shirt yarn, using one of the tutorials in the links below. Tell your friends. Be social and get the word out on the “interwebs.” We can make a difference together. And don’t forget to tag Spare Parts on social media with a photo of your own reuse creation! #reusegotmethinking #reusesanantonio

Resources on how to make T-Shirt yarn
The Spruce – How to Make T-Shirt Yarn
Instructables T-Shirt Yarn


How to make T-Shirt Yarn

Top 10 Ways to Reuse Your Stuff this Earth Day

Hiya, this is Amy from Maker Mama. Earth Day is here, and today I’m sharing my favorite ideas for reducing waste and getting your make on. Here are my Top 10 Ways to to Reuse Your Stuff this Earth Day:

Manipulate a cardboard box into a unique wall lamp with this fun video tutorial.

Use the rest of your box for some upcycled wall clocks by Pysselbolaget.

Save old duct tape rolls to make embroidered bangles.

  Turn your brown bag stash into a set of notebooks in just five minutes.

Plastic liter bottles make for super cute kitty planters.

 Dress up large tin cans and boxes in to upcycled utensil holders for the kitchen (or your desk).

Give those holey jeans new life as a knitted throw pillow.

Ditch the plastic and make your own produce bags using colorful T-shirts instead.

Or make a crocheted T-shirt rug.

And my favorite creative reuse idea? Turn any plastic bags you do have into plarn–perfect for any knit, crochet, or weaving project you can dream up!

Thanks for having me Mary, and I hope you’re all inspired to get creative this Earth Day!