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Recycle old clothes: Reuse clothes sensibly

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Whether worn out clothes, battered furniture or broken electrical appliances - all products deserve a second life. Many favorite pieces that were believed to be dead blossom again. Clearly: The trend is towards upcycling clothing and many other everyday objects.


The sustainable and resource-saving production of consumer goods is now very important to many consumers as well as a whole range of manufacturers and retailers. They use organic cotton for their clothing production, ensure fair working conditions and do not use toxic bleaches and dyes. Coffee is grown under socially and ecologically sound conditions, with the focus often not only on the precious beans, but also on the local people who are supported in the long term by educational and similar projects.

Upcycling: recycling clothes instead of throwing them away

If a sustainably produced item of clothing or furniture just ends up in the garbage at the end of its useful life, resources are unnecessarily wasted - that's it with the positive environmental balance. In doing so, an old object can often be simply breathed new life into or its individual parts can be creatively reassembled to create something completely new. This is called upcycling or refashion. Those who enjoy handicrafts, sewing and handicrafts will find numerous opportunities to be active in their own home.

Christina Schelhorn turns old clothes into new designer clothes
(© Sabine Möller)

DIY:Recycle broken or old clothes sensibly

Of course, not all of us are blessed with enough time, creativity or motivation to quickly turn the old wardrobe or living room furniture into a new one in the Do It Yourself mode.

Redesigner Christina Schelhorn turns old clothes into new designer clothes

No problem, because you can leave the recycling and upcycling to people like Christina Schelhorn. The designer worked for a large German textile manufacturer for years before she set herself the task of giving old clothes a second life. As the creative head of the redesign label, she has been designing recycled designer clothes ever since. The "redesigner" finds the old clothes from which Christina Schelhorn makes chic new one-offs at flea markets or at the recycling center, and often sorted out clothes are sent to her by private individuals or even by the authorities. In the meantime, she can, so to speak, fall back on her own collection of used clothes.

The fair valuation umbrella association is the nationwide network of non-profit organizations that collect used clothes. The aim is the transparent collection and recycling of used clothing for the benefit of social projects.

How good are old clothes collections?

Apropos: Used clothes collections are generally a good way to save discarded clothes the direct way to the garbage can and instead support social projects, for example. This is what you do when you put old clothes in containers and collections that bear the FairWeed mark or contact local clothing stores or social department stores run by non-profit organizations. The sorted out items of clothing should still be in a tidy condition and should be handed in washed, then they will surely delight many people in their second life who cannot afford new fashion clothes.

From coffee to garden furniture to children's clothes and laundry: sustainability is at the forefront

Tchibo is one of those companies that sets high standards in terms of sustainability and has long been offering its customers sustainably produced products - from coffee and garden furniture to children's clothes and linen. They wear the GUT MACHT logo. But the company wants to go one step further; At Tchibo, sustainability does not end with resource-saving production, but also includes its use and disposal. Producers, dealers and consumers should not only take responsibility for the first life of a product.

Tchibo Sustainability Manager Sarah Herms, responsible for the development of closed material cycles:

»We would like to give our customers tips and tricks on how products can be repaired or redesigned. For example, we offer initial tutorials and refer to our repair services

Tips for a long life and convenient recycling of products

In order to increase the recycling rate of everyday objects, electrical appliances and clothing, it is important to create as many opportunities as possible to return discarded products. Tchibo relies on partnerships with other companies and organizations, such as FairWeed, in order to be able to offer its customers transparent, environmentally friendly and socially responsible disposal methods for used clothing. This measure is part of the sustainability concept WELL GEMACHT FURTHER THOUGHT, with which the Group intends to take responsibility beyond the first life of products.

Of course, this only works if the customers get involved, which is why Tchibo gives them numerous tips on how to use the clothes, furniture and appliances they have bought for as long as possible, repair or improve them if necessary and finally dispose of them in an environmentally friendly manner. Tchibo is convinced that more sustainable consumer behavior is possible when manufacturers and consumers pull together and show more appreciation for products. To do this, the entire life cycle of a product must be taken into account and organized as sustainably as possible - from the resources required for production to disposal.

Further information is available at

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Sources: Tchibo GmbH, pictures: Tchibo GmbH, Sabine Möller, text: Ronja Kieffer