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Sustainability is a concept that many of us are trying to embrace into our lives with open arms, but this is obviously difficult for students on a budget. With the increased popularity of vintage clothes within the past few years, it's made trying to be ethical and fashionable quite tricky. Fortunately, up-cycling is an environmentally-friendly way of keeping your wardrobe stylish, and also gives your outfits a unique twist.

Up-cycling is reusing older or unused products or materials to create a new product entirely of better quality. With clothes, this can be broken and discarded pieces, or older, unworn pieces that might not be seen as having any value. 

I'm sure everyone has a pair of unloved jeans, or a handbag you're debating binning. These tips will not only help you be the sustainable queen we all aspire to be, but also ensure your outfit is one-of-a-kind and an original piece.


This first tip I have was inspired by the amazing sustainable duo that is Geraldine Carton and Taz Kelleher on their insightful instagram page @theuselessproject and all it takes is embroidery thread, any needle with a large enough eye for embroidery thread, your old item of clothing, a pair of scissors, tracing paper.The tracing paper isn’t necessary, you can of course go freehand!

This can spice up a pair of old jeans, a crew neck jumper or t-shirts to make them personalised, colourful and give them a new lease of life! It's also a great way to cover up small tears or rips in clothes.

Fabric Paint:

This trend is probably my favourite. Using fabric paint, you can up-cycle an old handbag, a pair of boots, some jeans, ANYTHING! It's especially great if you're artistic and really want to make a piece of clothing your own. You can choose to do anything from simple stars, lines and dots, to intricate butterflies and flowers!

It's also great for covering any stains or discolouration in the item.

Spicing Up The Old Jeans:

Jeans and trousers are probably one of the easiest item to up-cycle.

Distressing and ripping jeans is the simplest way to up-cycle a piece of clothing, and is great to hide stains or tears. Simple cutting rips and slits into the jeans, and roughing up the edges really gives them a new look and makes them original.

And as for trousers that don't fit anymore? Turn them into a mini skirt! There are thousands of videos on how to do this on YouTube, but we highly recommend Levi's video.


Coming up with multiple uses for one item of clothing is a sustainability dream. This includes using shoelaces as belts, using ribbons as shoelaces, using oversized shirts as jackets, dresses and simply just wrapping it around the waist to complete an outfit. By using items you already own for a completely different purpose than intended, you're reducing your carbon footprint and saving money too!


So grab your scissors, your fabric paint and sewing needles and start up-cycling! Stay fashionable, stay sustainable.

DCU Communication Studies 1/2 of the Her Campus P.R.O Team
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