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Q. Dear Umbra,
I wear jeans a lot, practically every day. When my jeans get a hole I patch them and wear them in the garden. But eventually they get too holey to wear even in the garden. What can I do with my old jeans rather than throw them out? Jeans don't make good cleaning or pee rags like my worn-out cotton T-shirts. Can I send them someplace to be used as insulation for houses? Any other ideas would be appreciated.
Highlands Ranch, Colo.
A. Dearest Judith,
Jeans as pee rags seems like a new torture method. Let’s not go there.
I com-mend you (ha) for being so thrifty. And I’m sure you know, as our Greenie Pig recently confirmed, that you can make your denim last even longer by not washing it too often. But what to do when those dungarees done give up? You can mail them (and other denim cast-offs) to the Cotton. From Blue to Green program. Originally a campus-oriented recycling drive, the program turns your jeans into insulation, which is then used by Habitat for Humanity in hard-hit places like New Orleans.
Another thought: Since you’re into gardening, you could use your old jeans to make kneepads -- which would protect subsequent pairs of jeans. You can also compost fabric, though it can take awhile to break down. Needless to say, crafty ideas abound for reusing denim -- take a look at this list, for starters. Some of the items are in-jean-ious, and some will make you look like you stepped out of a Charlie’s Angels episode. I shall let you decide what suits you best.