What to do with those old jeans.

October 13, 2021
Photo: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels.

A few weeks ago, my husband Nathan and I were given a great opportunity to declutter: our apartment sprang several new, gushing leaks. (Thankfully, my yarn stash bag, holding all my favorite tools for MedKNITation, was safe!)

We’d already been through the forced decluttering of SuperStorm Sandy, when our basement was flooded with eight feet of water. Thousands of my husband’s photographs taken over decades; a few of my Nana’s dresses, her long gloves, her embroidered clutch; and stacks of my journals all had to go.

I remember those items well, and I was sad to see them end up in a dumpster. Yet there was also a sense of relief; we didn’t have to ask what we’d do with these items some day.

We didn’t experience any kind of loss with these most recent leaks, but we did have to move everything out of our home office for when repair work could begin. That meant packing everything in plastic bins, which are now in our dining area. You really don’t know how much stuff you have until you have to pack it, going through each and every item. When I did that, I had to ask: Do I really need this?

That made me start looking at everything and asking whether the item in question was still used and/or loved, or if it was just taking up space, and my attention. I went for the obvious starting point, my closet.

Several pairs of jeans were hanging there. Two were very worn out from being in near constant rotation; also, the thinner and stretchier the denim, the sooner they wear out—and rip, in the most embarrassing places. (No, it’s not you! It’s the denim.) I have a lined pair of jeans for winter, a thin pair of culottes for summer (which stopped fitting a few summers ago), a boot cut pair, a capri-length pair… Basically, I had a pair of jeans for every ten degrees of temperature and in many hues of blue.

The purge was easy. The worn-out jeans and the ones that didn’t fit had to go. While I didn’t want the jeans to stay in my closet, I didn’t want them to end up in a landfill. What can you do with jeans you don’t want anymore? Madewell takes jeans of any brand, any year, any color, any condition, and helps unwanted denim become housing insulation for communities in need. Amazing! 

In exchange for your donation, Madewell also gives you a coupon for $20 off a pair of their jeans…which I took them up on, because I didn’t have any skinny jeans in my denim wardrobe. Well, down three pairs, up one. That’s not bad.

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