1. Headline
  1. Headline
PattyO Designs will repurpose anything from a bland blouse to an old pair of jeans.
TODAY contributor
updated 11/12/2009 10:39:29 AM ET 2009-11-12T15:39:29

Environmental concerns have inspired style-savvy individuals to be creative with old items and materials, resulting in fabulous fresh fashion ideas that also reduce waste. From making reusable bags out of old duvet covers to using cassette tapes to create neckties, and even turning your ex’s jeans into a brand-new tote, it’s time to look at your everyday items in a whole new light! These designers and brands are bound to inspire you to upcycle what’s old rather than discarding it.

Bobbie Thomas, TODAY Style editor and author of the Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, shows you how to update your wardrobe while helping to prevent waste.

Bag it forward
According to Morsbags.com, more than 1 million plastic bags are consumed per minute globally. Supermarkets are still using plastic bags at a rapid rate, but in an effort to accelerate the reusable bag campaign, there is a growing community trying to help. Morsbag makers are citizens around the world who create bags out of old duvet covers, clothes and curtains, and then pass them out to others as an alternative to plastic bags. Each bag is estimated to replace hundreds of plastic bags in its lifetime. It takes no more than 20 minutes to make a bag, and pods of people in every community are designing their own do-good totes. Whether you hand them out to friends and family or offer them to shoppers at your local grocery store, this is a great way to get your friends together, get involved and give back this holiday season. http://www.morsbags.com/

Fashion face-lift
Patricia Ordonez doesn’t want you to part with your favorite old fashions that no longer feel fabulous — she wants you to get inspired to turn them into fresh frocks with just a few minor updates. As owner of PattyO Designs, she prides herself on repurposing anything from a bland blouse to a stained skirt, and her latest project starts with a pair of jeans. Just send her some old denim, and a few weeks later it will be turned into a tote with the words “My Ex’s Jeans” proudly printed on the front. Now if only we could find a way to upcycle the men! But whether you’re inspired to go to your local tailor and tweak something on your own, or hand over your would-be hand-me-downs to someone like Patty, it’s time to take a second look at your garments. www.pattyodesigns.com

Sound of style
Both music and environmental enthusiasts will be blown away by artist Alyce Santoro’s audible neckties. Woven from recorded audiocassette tape and polyester thread, Alyce refers to the Sonic Fabric as “wearable art,” and has used it to create everything from shaman-superhero dresses to classic men’s ties. And just for fun — the sounds contained in the weave can actually be heard by drawing a tape head over its surface. Now that’s music to my ears! http://www.sonicfabric.com/

Collective closet exchange
You may be able to borrow from your best friend’s wardrobe, but now imagine you can shop in a stranger’s closet! ThredUp lets you do just that. Considered the Netflix of clothing (but eco-friendly too!), ThredUp helps you trade anonymously by matching your preferences with members’ descriptions of their items. All you have to do is purchase envelopes (3 for $25), insert your unwanted clothing item inside, and put it in the mail. Days later, a new-to-you item will arrive at your door. A convenient and fun way to refresh your closet for free! http://www.thredup.com/

Community crafts
And last but not least, one of the largest platforms for upcycled goods is Etsy.com, an online marketplace that connects shoppers with independent creators and designers of handmade goods. More than 3.3 million buyers and sellers are using Etsy.com to either find or sell handmade and reworked vintage items. And with amazing designs like Giant Dwarf’s headpieces made from recycled sweaters, Another Feather’s adornments made from discarded timepieces and more, SpoonerZ’s jewelry made from old silverware, Zippinning’s flower brooches made from vintage zippers and Sparrow Nest Knits made from recycled plastic bottles, it’s easy to understand why. These handmade items are haute! http://www.etsy.com/

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Go green and look gorgeous

  1. Closed captioning of: Go green and look gorgeous

    announcer: the change?. *

    >>> this morning on "bobbie's style buzz," upcycling. it's a new take on recycling fashion ideas that create waste. neckties made out of cassette tapes , yes, you're going to see it. "today's" style editor bobbie thomas has old items you can use in a new and fashionable way. good morning.

    >> absolutely. good morning.

    >> i love this idea, because not only is this environmentally friendly, it's also greats for our economy as well.

    >> absolutely.

    >> reusing old things.

    >> i was blown away to learn that we use globally per minute almost 1 million plastic bags .

    >> wow.

    >> and this website is really just trying to help the effort to cut down on that impact on the environment. what they're suggesting is takes less than 20 minutes for you to make your own reusable tote out of old clothing or curtains or sheets. and in the lifetime of the one bag you make, you will replace hundreds of plastic bags .

    >> one person can make a difference.

    >> as long as you remember to pack those in the car when you go grocery shopping.

    >> this christmas or hanukkah, give these to friends and family. you can also sign up for pods to give them out at grocery stores .

    >> now, this is a fabulous idea, because so many of us have jeans that no longer fit us like they used to or --

    >> or they never fit in the first place.

    >> yes.

    >> well, patty o. designs encouraged me. she wants you to send your clothing to her and she'll give your fashion a face-lift. but i love the bags made from your ex-boyfriend's jeans. so they're funny, but also sentimental. someone lost their husband and wanted to keep it close, so she made a tote for her as well, but you can make value out of something you're about to discard or get rid of. you can go to the dry cleaner and do that yourself.

    >> and you can take that to the grocery store , too, and fill that up. this is genius. amazing.

    >> such a good idea. son sonicfabric.com. you make these --

    >> out of old cassette tapes , which we all have drawers of.

    >> they made these cool ties for guys. i was talking to kathie lee in the glam room upstairs and she was saying i have a bucketload. i want them to make me a dress. i'm going to send in the tapes and donate.

    >> the fabric has a neat metallic sheen.

    >> almost leatherish. it's cool.

    >> kathie lee 's going to wear the dress. i want to see it.

    >> this is called threadup.com, and it's sort of been coined as the netflix of clothing, and what's really great wiabout this is for $12.50, you'll get three bags --

    >> a month?

    >> $12.50 for three bags. you send in your tops and this website lets you shop in someone else 's closet. so instead of borrowing from a friend, you can trade clothing with this community they've collected and they'll do all the work for you. we sent them some tops and they sent us back some ideas. you fill out a profile.

    >> oh.

    >> really good way to --

    >> like designers you like to wear and that.

    >> colors, shapes.

    >> threadup.com. that's a great idea.

    >> last but not least, this is a marketplace of handmade items you can either buy or sell and i love some of the designs. i spent hours surfing on there.

    >> these are cool, made with old casings, right? crystals.

    >> this is a feather. i love the idea. even old tarnished silverware can become jewelry. look at the spoons and forks bent into bracelets and a ring.

    >> that's really neat.

    >> they personalized it, too.

    >> these are made from zippers?

    >> yes. when you have a zipper that's broken, don't throw it out. this designer made them into broaches.

    >> they're gorgeous.

    >> old, tattered sweaters you can turn into knitwear. all this is at todayshow.com. i've got all the designers listed.

    >> such great ideas.

    >> thank you.

    >> cool things. bobbie thomas, thanks so much. don't forget to check out bobbie's column "the buzz" in "in touch weekly."


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. @HillaryClinton/twitter

    Hillary Clinton: Granddaughter led me 'to speed up' political plans

    4/10/2015 3:58:42 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T15:58:42
  1. Courtesy Bryan Morseman

    Marathon dad's victories help raise money for son with spina bifida

    4/10/2015 5:54:50 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T17:54:50
  1. YouTube

    8 great celebrity impressions of other celebrities

    4/10/2015 6:44:22 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T18:44:22