One of the parts of having things is that they eventually wear out. Whether it’s a piece of furniture, clothing or bed clothes, we are ultimately left with something that we have to discard. With the world in the state that it’s in, many of us are looking for new ways to avoid creating waste. Recycling is an option, but repurposing is a much greener option.

Old blankets and used bedding offer a lot of opportunity for repurposing. In short, these are large pieces of fabric, which makes them ideal for crafting. Even for those who aren’t crafters, old blankets and sheets can be reimagined as is and put to useful endeavors.

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1. Homeless Shelters

If we are honest, some of us replace a perfectly good set of sheets or an old blanket because we changed a bedroom color scheme or simply because of wanting something new. In this case, with sheets and comforters in good condition, homeless and/or emergency shelters will make good use of them.

cats laying on a blanket

Source: Mara1/Creative Commons

2. Animal Beds

For sheets that are worse for wear, a different option is to donate them to animal shelters or, in fact, to beloved pets at home. Animals aren’t nearly as choosy as humans in terms of what constitutes comfort and warmth. An old blanket with holes will suit them just fine.

3. Drop Cloth

Old sheets are also handy things to have around the house, particularly for those who are project-oriented. They make for great, reusable drop cloths when painting, patching or potting plants. They can be spread inside and out to avoid making a mess.

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4. Crafting Smock or Apron

Similarly, when painting or doing other DIY-type tasks, old sheets can be fashioned into useful smocks to keep clothing clean. It could be a simple as cutting a hole to put your head through an old fleece, or, as with all things crafting, there are much more imaginative and fun smocks out there to make.

5. Cleaning Cloths & Rags

Old t-shirts aren’t the only material that can be torn up into rags. An old sheet has the potential to supply a lot of shop rags, cleaning cloths and other swaddling of this ilk. And, of course, in this case, it doesn’t really matter how tattered the bedding may be. There is no real need for any of us to ever go to a home improvement store and buy a box of shop rags. We are constantly producing them with old clothing, human and bed.

picnic set up

Source: Sheba_Also/Creative Commons

6. Picnic Blanket/Emergency Kit

Until it’s time to change a tire when you’re in nice clothes or until that beautiful spot just presents itself for picnicking, it’s easy not to have blanket in the trunk of the car. But, in those moments, that tattered comforter or flannel sheet sure would be nice. While there is an old comforter around, it might be worth folding it up and sticking it with an automotive emergency kit. A blanket might also come in handy in the unlikely event of being stranded in a snowstorm.

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7. Curtains

For crafty types, even for novices, repurposing sheets into curtains is a fairly simple practice. While it’s unlikely that we need new curtains at the same time we are replacing our sheets and blankets, it’s worth keeping it in mind because we obviously liked the pattern and colors to choose the bedding in the first place. Otherwise, for regular repurposers, sheets are widely available and inexpensive at thrift stores.

8. Reusable Bags

While the sewing needle is out, sheets and blankets are perfect materials for making reusable bags. This could include shopping bags, as well as vegetable bags, bulk item bags, laundry totes and any other type of bag. It’s only a matter folding the strip of cloth in half, sewing up the sides and putting drawstring at the top.

9. Heating/Cooling Pads

One of the more unique ways to use a bag created from old bedding is to make a heating or cooling pad. This involves making the bag in whatever shape seems appropriate, filling it with white rice, and sewing it permanently shut. To heat it, use the microwave. To cool it, stick it in the freezer.

10. Toys

Rather than having the kids stretch and damage newer, still functioning sheets, it might be worthwhile to keep a few older sets around for times when indoor clubhouses are under construction. For that matter, there are probably lots of inventive games kids could come up with when given these toys.

11. Shower Curtains

For those of us trying to avoid plastic, one of the harder items to replace is the shower curtain. We think of these as needing to be waterproof, which is kind of true. However, some plastic-free people have started using sheets. While not waterproof, they do prevent water from splashing out into the bathroom, and thin sheets dry pretty quickly. Plus, they can be washed to avoid issues.

12. Garden Tools

If the shower curtain experiment fails and gets mildew-y too quickly, sheets and blankets make great tools in the garden, too. They can cover compost piles, allowing moisture in but preventing it from leaving. Fully cotton sheets can be used as natural weed barriers along stone pathways or under mulch, as a much better option than plastic landscaping cloth.

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stack of blankets

Source: lisaclarke/Creative Commons

Obviously, the ideal option would be to use our sheets and blankets for the full extent of their life, avoiding buying something new when something old is still perfectly functional. However, should this ideal fall flat, as with most objects that we replace prematurely, there is always the option of cleaning and donating old bedding to thrift stores, where they can raise money for worthy causes and supply someone less fortunate with quality bedding.

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