Re-purposing Old Into New

Re-purposing something old into something new is actually a very important step towards living a Greenish lifestyle. What it means is that no new resources are used in making something ‘new’.

Here are a few things I have made by re-purposing things I already had lying around.

Re-purposing an Old T-Shirt: No Sewing Needed Bag!

no sow repurposed tshirt bag

A fantastic way of re-purposing an old t-shirt with sentimental value, is by transforming it into a bag. Useful and beautiful.

Here’s what you need:

  1. An old t-shirt;
  2. Scissors;
  3. Your imagination.

Maybe a few other bits and bobs, depending on what you want to achieve.

Step 1

repurposed t shirt step 1

Grab that old t-shirt and cut away the sleeves and neck part to make the handles and an opening for the bag.

You can cut as big and wide or as small and narrow as you want. Just remember, the bigger you make the holes, the smaller the bag will become.

Step 2

repurposed t shirt step 2

Cut about 2-3 cm thick tassels about 5-6 cm in from the bottom of the t-shirt.

Be careful not to cut too deep. The longer the tassels, the farther up you’ll tie everything together and the smaller the bag will become.

Step 3

repurposed t shirt step 3

Please excuse the paint stains.

Turn your t-shirt inside out and tie the tassels opposite each other together.

A double knot works well enough, but if you want to be extra thorough, you can get creative with extra knots and tying tassels next to each other, together.

Step 4

no sow repurposed tshirt bag

Turn your t-shirt right side out again. And voila. You’re done.

Among all the things you can do with old t-shirts, this idea is my favorite.

Not only do you get a chance to show off your creative skills and that special t-shirt, but it’s a great way to find new purpose for something that would normally be discarded.

Re-purposing an Old T-Shirt: Over The Shoulder Bag!


For this bag I used a long sleeve t-shirt.

Okay, full disclosure, I did make a few extra cuts and stitches here and there which I didn’t include in this tutorial, but only because this bag was a bit experimental. If I included every single step I made every time I changed my mind, this would be a very complicated tutorial!

But don’t stress, this nifty over-the-shoulder bag will turn out great if you use the basic steps in this tutorial.

Step 1

old shirt for bag repurposing

Find an old long sleeve t-shirt and make modifications (I added the strip of lace, but you can add buttons or bleach a picture; or leave it as is).

Step 2

repurposing tshirt into bag cut out neck

Cut out the neck part to make a bigger opening for your bag. (In this picture I cut a round opening, but I ended up re-cutting the neck opening to be square)

Step 3

sowing bottom of tshirt

Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew the bottom of the t-shirt closed (you can hand sew. I used a sewing machine).

I made two rows of stitches to make extra sure the bag won’t tear open under stress. First a straight stitch and just under that a zig-zag stitch.

Step 4

repurposing tshirt sleeves for shoulder

Turn your t-shirt right side out again. Take the ends of the sleeves and put them down to face each other. Tuck one sleeve inside the other and secure with safety pins.

tuck the shirt sleeves

Before you stitch the two sleeves together, check that the length of the ‘handles’ are okay.

I can’t give an estimate here. Some folks like their bags hanging just above the elbow, others like a bag hanging low; below the elbow.

Once you’re happy with the length, sew the sleeves together. Two rows of stitches to ensure strength.

You’re done.


Just in case you want to know what else I was up to, I added step five.

Step 5

Put your new bag onto a flat surface. Gather each handle into its corner of the bag and sew to secure to the corner. Not sure what I’m going on about? Zoom into the picture above to see where I made a stitch right in the corner where the bag and handle come together.

Re-purposing Steel Water Pipes

repurposed steel pipes lamp

This little re-purposing project is one of my favorites. I had a box of old galvanized steel pipes lying around and didn’t know what to do with it.

A Pinterest idea of a lamp came to mind. After many attempts the lamp turned out looking like a dog. I think.

Unfortunately, I made this lamp a long time ago and don’t have pictures of each step. However, if you feel like trying something similar, I have a few tips:

  1. Clean the pipes and pipe fittings. The paint won’t stick to any debris or stickiness.
  2. Make sure to run the wiring through the pipes before you screw the pipes together.
  3. Make sure the pipe fittings screw together tightly and use steel glue to secure the fittings if necessary.
  4. Get expert help from an electrician when you add plugs and switches for your lamp.
  5. The last step is a coat of paint in your favorite color. I prefer spray paint and my favorite brand is Rustoleum. (Make sure to tape all light fittings and wiring with masking tape before your start spraying.)

Who said junk can’t be practical and beautiful!

Re-purposing Plastic Soda Bottles

repurposed plastic bottles

This is not my own, but one I thought should be mentioned.

Hat’s off to this young man for re-purposing old soda bottles! Keeping single use plastic out of the landfill, giving a discarded item a new function, and earning an income while doing so.

Two thumbs up for initiative and creativity.

Re-purposing Plastic Bags


This is a really fantastic idea.

Plasticity uses discarded plastic shopping bags to create useful products. They fuse a few sheets of plastic together to form a new material to which they attach zips and handles.

Best of all, these guys are local. Proudly South African!

These are just a few of my very own tips to repurpose what you already have, but there are thousands of ideas on the internet just waiting to be discovered.

If you are interested in more tips, ideas and information on how to live a Greenish lifestyle or if you just want to follow my journey, click on the links here to go to my Facebook and Instagram pages.

Also, visit my online shop here to get your hands on sustainable alternatives to everyday single use plastics.

Watch this space for more tutorials and advice; and please share your ideas in the comments section.

Until next time…remember your t-shirt bag when you go to the shops and live Greenish!

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