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How these cool retailers are giving a second life to your worn out skinny jeans


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Photo: Stocksy/Treasures Travels

I’d wager to guess there’s at least one bag of old clothing sitting in the trunk of your car or under your bed—perhaps the result of a Marie Kondo-kick cut short. Well, if any of the items no longer sparking joy for you happen to be jeans, there’s a really genius way you can recycle them and score some cash for a replacement pair at the same time.

Over the past few years, some seriously buzzy retailers (think: Gap, American Eagle Outfitters, Bloomingdale’s, Citizens of Humanity, Guess, Saks Off Fifth, and more) have organized in-store collection drives with the eco-friendly initiative, Blue Jeans Go Green (BJGG). The organization turns denim into Ultra Touch insulation, a healthier, fiberglass alternative, then donates it to the affordable housing nonprofit Habitat for Humanity, as well as for use in civic-minded buildings, such as hospitals, museums, battered women’s shelters, and the like. And this season, two cool girl-approved, denim-driven brands are joining their ranks: Madewell and Rag & Bone.

“To date, we’ve received about 1.7 million pieces of denim.”

“To date, we’ve received about 1.7 million pieces of denim,” says Andrea Samber, director of consumer marketing, strategic alliances for Cotton Incorporated, who helped to launch BJGG in 2006. “This has resulted in 750 tons of textile waste being diverted from landfills, which gives us the ability to generate over 2.7 million-square-feet of insulation.”

Nearly 200K pairs of jeans have been collected at Madewell stores alone. And right now, you can take your unwanted denim to any of its 117 locations and receive a $20 gift toward the purchase of a new pair of jeans. (For a limited time, the retailer is also sending out pre-paid mailers to solicit donations with packages delivered to customers who make purchases online.) Meanwhile, Rag&Bone, which arguably made its fashion mark one ultra-tapered pair of skinny jeans at a time, is currently running a denim drive at its specialty stores nationwide through December 31, 2017.

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Through the collab, customers can receive a 20-percent, day-of discount on a full-price pair of jeans. Both Madewell and Rag & Bone will only accept jeans (from any brand, BTW), but you can donate other denim items you no longer wear—like that teeny tiny jean skirt you bought circa 2004—directly through BJGG.

This isn’t the only guilt-free way to add to your denim collection—AYR’s Aloe jean is made using just one cup of water. Plus, here’s why this piece of activewear might replace your denim altogether.