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Upcycling ideas for old men’s dress shirts

Sustainable fashion is a broad umbrella term that covers a wide range of ‘sub-categories’. Sustainable might refer to the agriculture crops that produce the textile, or it can refer to manufacturing practices – broadly speaking, something is sustainable if it’s not going to run out.

Working with that definition, something can be made sustainable if you find smart and innovative ways to avoid throwing it away, even when it seems past its prime. That’s where upcyling comes in.

Upcycling refers to the practice of re-using a discarded object or material in a way that transforms it into something of higher quality. It involves taking things that might end up in landfills and leveling them up,  transforming them, and breathing new life into them. Said another way: one woman’s time to get rid of that is another woman’s where did you get that.

Depending on how innovative and crafty you get, you can turn unsustainable garments with seemingly short shelf lives into super fun pieces. Today we’re spotlighting a quintessential thrift store find: men’s dress shirts. As it turns out, these babies can be upcycled into skirts, off-the-shoulder tops, and flirty strapless numbers.

To repurpose into a skirt:

Image sourced from DIY Fashion Sense

Step 1: Get your hands on an oversized mens dress shirt. A light denim works well for this hack, or a slim off-white dress shirt with concealed buttons. Button it three quarters of the way up

Step 2: Step into the shirt so that the open neck falls around your waist. Button it up more if necessary, in order to make it sit comfortable over your hips. The two arm sleeves should be hanging down on either side of your hips, falling to around your knees.

Step 3: Fold the collar so that a smooth band runs around your lower back.

Step 4: Gather each arm, and tie around your waist, making them into a large bow tie at the front, or alternately letting the arms hang loose from a tight knot.

Step 5: Adjust the waistband so it’s straight and snugly fitting. Voila! Super cute knee length summer skirt has been achieved.

To repurpose into an off-the-shoulder top:

Image sourced from RebeccaLaurey.com

There are basic sewing versions of this hack, but we’ve included the no-sew version to keep things super accessible. Upcycling can simply mean finding a new way to style an old piece – it doesn’t necessarily need to involve any crazy DIY expertise.  

Step 1: Start by selecting a second-hand mens dress shirt and slip it on. Crisp white poplin is absolutely killer here. Button up the bottom three to five buttons, but keep the top half of buttons undone.

Step 2: Working with one sleeve then the other, lightly work each arm of the shirt down, positioning them so they hug halfway down each of your shoulders: think wide, off-the-shoulder boat neck shape.

Step 3: It’s important to fold the fabric and the collar so that the look snugly hugs your shoulders and back. If you need to button up one or two more buttons to get the look to comfortably stay put, go ahead and do that.

Wear this getup with high rise maxi skirt, and tuck tuck tuck!

To repurpose into a flirty strapless number:

Image sourced from Goodwill.org

Depending on just how oversized the dress shirt you’re working with is, and how tall you are, this look will either be a strapless top or a strapless dress.

Step 1: Select a light slim-fitting men’s dress shirt: we like any lightweight linen-cotton, and pastels are a plus for this look.

Step 2: Slip it on, but here’s the catch: don’t put your arms in the sleeves. Keep the sleeves hanging loose beneath your armpits and button the shirt up so that it creates a sort of strapless dress shirt (with an extra pair of empty arms hanging below your pits).

Step 3: Here’s where it gets good: take the arms and tie them in a tight bow at your waist, turning the baggy-four-armed look into a super cinched and fitted strapless top. The collar will be hugging around your back, and it’s up to you to either leave it out, or tuck it in for a smooth finish.


Seven Ways to Keep the Plastic You Already Have out of Our Oceans and Landfills

We Throw 17 Billion Pounds of Plastic into Our Oceans Every Year

Did you know that every minute, we dump a garbage truck-sized pile of plastic into our oceans? That means that by the time you finish reading this post, about eight more will be in our waters. Annually, this works out to over 17 billion pounds, enough to cover every coastline in the world.

Trouble is, our plastic waste is not on our beaches where we can see it, it’s in the ocean where it quietly poisons marine life and makes our planet less hospitable. As if that weren’t enough, we only recycle nine percent of our plastic. Since it takes 400 years to biodegrade, 91 percent of the plastic we create and use today will be with us for the next six generations. If nothing shifts, our consumption habits will irrevocably change the planet and harm many of the beings that inhabit it.

Oof. That’s Such a Big Problem. What Can One Person Possibly Do to Make a Difference?

Lest you think that all hope is lost, let us reassure you that your actions make a difference.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re interested in environmental sustainability. Maybe you’ve already started reducing the plastic you consume by choosing reusable produce bags, filling your own containers with bulk foods and cleaning supplies, and bringing your own mug to your local coffee shop.

If so, be proud! You’ve already taken the most important steps to ensure that less plastic ends up in our oceans and landfills.

But even if you’re diligent about avoiding it, plastic is everywhere. Here are a few creative solutions that you can use today to give plastic the longest possible lifespan. Read on to learn how to make your plastic work for you and our planet, and how to recycle it correctly when you’re ready to let it go.

Reuse Your Plastic Containers

For an Instagram-worthy earth-friendly kitchen or bathroom, you can get out of the plastic game entirely by investing in clear and colored glass bottles or mason jars. You can refill those with cleaning supplies, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and anything else you can think of.

But if you’re not ready to go glass, or if you want to take your eco-friendly impulse up a notch, refill the plastic shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles that you already have instead. Pro-tip: Write the tare weight on your container before filling it.

Visit Litterless to find stores in your community that support wasteless shopping, and start extending the life of your plastics! After all, they’ll be around for 400 years whether you reuse them or not.

Reuse Your Plastic Bags

When thinking about plastic, you need to get creative. How can you extend each product’s life as long as possible?  Plastic bags are convenient—good chances are that you already have a box of resealable bags in your kitchen. Instead of using them once and then throwing them away, wash them! Let them air dry, then put them back in the drawer for the next time you need to freeze your homemade marinara or bone broth.

Donate Your Plastic Hangers to Second Hand Shops

Maybe you long for a closet full of one kind of hanger. Or perhaps the minimalist aesthetic is calling you to replace your plastic hangers with wooden ones. Whether you’re in the middle of a closet reset, or just have some extras you’re ready to get rid of, consider donating your plastic hangers to a local second-hand shop, Salvation Army, or Goodwill. This will make sure they have a longer lifecycle before they end up in a landfill, or in the best case scenario, are recycled.

Donate Plastic Cutlery to a Local Shelter

We recommend that you just say no to plastic cutlery by purchasing your own set and keeping it with you at all times. But if you ever end up with unwanted spoons, forks, and knives, save them and bring them to a local homeless shelter or food pantry.

Learn How to Recycle Properly

This one is a big one. Plastic recycling is a more complicated process than recycling metal, glass, or paper. There are thousands of different types of plastic, and they have to be sorted before reprocessing. You may think that you’re helping the environment by putting everything you imagine might be recyclable into the bin, but you’re not.

Enter your zip code at berecycled.org to find out what’s actually recyclable in your community. It might surprise you that plastic recycling is still quite limited due to its complexity. When an unrecyclable item ends up in the blue bin due to wishful thinking or lack of knowledge, a bale of perfectly good recyclable items could end up the landfill.

Recycle Plastic Films and Bags

It seems like everything from almonds to frozen berries comes in a plastic bag these days. Once you’ve finished the contents, rinse your bags out, and recycle them! But, did you know that plastic bags can’t be mixed in with curbside recyclables? They have to be processed differently.

Globally, we use 160,000 bags every second. Start collecting yours and discover how much plastic film waste you produce every week. The volume will probably surprise you. Luckily, you can take your newfound plastic haul to more than 18,000 collection stations throughout the United States. Simply type your location into Earth 911 to find out where to bring yours!

Keep the Microplastics in Your Clothes Out of the Water

Microplastics are a big problem. Washing synthetic clothing releases 3.2 million tons of plastic microfibers into the ocean per year. But, thanks to this incredible product from Guppyfriend, you can protect your clothes while easily keeping waste out of your washer and our oceans!

Where Do We Go From Here?

If we all recycle more plastic, we’ll start to change this world of ours. Here at BUHO, we believe in taking action, one choice at a time. Together, we can turn nine percent into 99.

Do you have any other ideas about how to extend the lives of our plastics? Leave a comment below—we’d love to hear from you!

How to care for non-sustainable fabrics in your closet so they don’t end up in a landfill

Tried and true tips to keep your clothes from making a trip to the landfill.

Hopefully if you’re reading this, it means you’ve made a decision to clean up your closet act – to start shopping with your ethical compass as your guide, to get over trend-addled fast fashion in favor of slow fashion that lasts. If this sounds like you, congratulations: you’re making the jump to shopping better.

That said, we’ve all got skeletons in our closet, and when I say skeletons, I mean basics and statement pieces that we’ve accumulated over the years that don’t exactly have the sustainability seal of approval. In all likelihood, unless you’re some sort of fashion Mother Teresa, you’ve got a closet full of non-sustainable fabrics, conveniently mass-produced cotton tops, and phytochemical filled synthetic nylon trousers. Don’t worry, we’ve all shopped fast fashion, and now the name of the game is damage control.

If this sounds like you, your overarching concern should now be caring for the non-sustainable fabrics in your closet so they don’t end up in a landfill. The only thing worse than buying unsustainable is throwing away unsustainable.

Before we get into a few basic How-Tos, first let’s get our definitions straight.

Unsustainable fabrics refer to fabrics that are created using farming and manufacturing processes that are environmentally degrading. The term also covers fabrics that are non-biodegradable, which will sit in landfills, changing local ecosystems and contributing to the process of chemicals leaching into the air and soil. There’s a long list of unsustainable fabrics out there (many of which you likely have in your closet) but a few of the top offenders are:

Inorganic Cotton: it requires pesticides and a huge amount of water to produce.

Nylon: it’s crafted with non-biodegradable phytochemicals and its manufacturing process creates huge amounts of nitrous oxide.

Leather: it has intensive farming impacts and animal rights issues tied to it.

What about Sustainable fabrics? This term refer to textiles that are manufactured with a reduced environmental footprint. Sustainable fabrics are biodegradable and are derived out of plant crops that are ecological, easy to cultivate, pest-tolerant and agro-chemical free. A good example of a sustainable fabric is Hemp. The cultivation of Hemp is super sustainable, requires very little water to grow, and actually enriches soil. Most importantly, the resultant yarn is used to make biodegradable garments.

BUT assuming we haven’t all reached the point where we have super chic hemp capsule wardrobes (we’ll get there eventually), what in the world should we be doing to keep our inorganic cotton, nylon, and leather as far away from the landfills as possible?

Keep your cotton around for longer

For your inorganic cotton, the name of the game is smart washing. Inorganic cotton is prone to shrinking and stretching during the wash cycle, so to avoid this pitfall, make sure you wash your cotton pieces in cold water. Opt for a gentle cycle in your washing machine, or even better, wash by hand. Combine these super cool and gentle washing practices with a strict air-drying policy. The dryer doesn’t generally play nicely with inorganic cotton, so to keep your T-shirts around for as long as possible, lay them out flat to dry. Pro tip: smooth the creases out before drying, to avoid having to iron things too often. In fact, avoid ironing whenever possible, as cotton is easily burned and damaged by super high heat.

Keep your nylon up and running

If you look at the labels of any activewear in your closet, chances are they’ll have nylon on the list. Nylon is a super lightweight synthetic fiber that’s typically added to athletic textile blends to give stretch and elasticity. While it might make nice yoga pants, it’s a super unsustainable fabric that you should avoid throwing away. To keep it up and running (or downward dogging) for as long as possible, the battle you’re fighting is against pilling. Fabric pilling happens when loose bits of fiber congregate on a single thread of textile, forming a tiny ball. Pilling is generally caused by friction, which is exacerbated by using chlorine based bleached and stain removers and high setting dryers. Like cotton, you should opt to air-dry your nylon to prevent damage. And for washing, opt for a gentle plant-based detergent that won’t weaken the integrity of each individual thread.

But what about the nylons you have in your closet that are already pilling? Try using a pumice stone to manually shave off the tiny pills. And to avoid future pilling, make sure you aren’t throwing your workout clothes loose in a dirty gym bag. Excess dirt and dust will mix with nylon threads to exacerbate pilling, so be smart about storage to keep friction and dirt accumulation to a minimum.

How to make your leatha’ foreva’

Leather care is a somewhat complicated subject, with advice that varies depending on the type of leather, how it’s treated, and what kind of garment you’re working with. But in terms of basic leather care – that is, the kind of basic care that will help your avoid dumping your leather in a landfill – there are three main strategies that you should be adopting.

The first is cleaning your leather. Leather is a living material that darkens over time, but to keep it from darkening at a rapid pace, clean it once a month with plant-based unscented soap and a leather brush. Exfoliate the dirt and grime off your leather piece to keep it looking newer for longer.

Second: keep your leather out of the rain! Leather plus a rainstorm will equal drying out, shrinking, and potentially cracking. Do not – repeat DO NOT – put leather on the radiator or in the dryer.

Third: acquaint yourself with a naturally nourishing leather oil that you can treat your garment with. There’s a whole cottage industry of products designed to keep your leather soft and supple, plus keep the material protected from external elements (particularly UV rays). Opt for a formula that uses beeswax, cocoa butter, or sweet almond oil.

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There you have it: a few tried and true tips to keep your clothes from making a trip to the landfill. All this said, caring for your non-sustainable fabric is only one piece of the puzzle. The other piece is investing in sustainable textiles and high quality goods with super long lives.

Want more? Keep up with us here for more ethical fashion guides.

Why Sustainable Fashion?

Learn how to heal the planet by creating a wardrobe that reflects your values and find out why it matters to shop sustainably.

Fast fashion may be cheap, but the human and environmental costs are monumental. In the clothing industry, you’ll find every kind of abuse imaginable—forced child labor, workers making poverty wages while working 16-18 hour days, and the annual addition of half a million tons of plastic microfibers to our oceans.

Here’s the thing: these stats are just the tip of the melting iceberg.

If you’re already feeling discouraged, keep in mind that you have the power to vote with your dollars. It can be easy to shut down when hearing grim facts and figures, but money keeps this industry on the fast track to disaster. Put your money somewhere else, and you become part of the solution.

Please know that we share these truths not to overwhelm, but to inspire. Together, we can change our habits and transform our planet. By committing to creating a wardrobe that reflects your values, you’re making a huge difference. Read on to find out why shopping sustainably is such a good thing.

You’ll Make Less Waste and Reduce the Textiles Filling up Our Landfills

One of the biggest reasons to shop sustainably is because the traditional fashion industry is wasteful. Global clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years. We buy 60 percent more clothes than we did in 2000 but keep our clothes half as long. This is part of the reason why every second, we burn or send one garbage truck of clothes to our landfills.

Non-biodegradable textiles stay in our landfills for up to 200 years, and global apparel production is projected to increase 63 percent by the year 2030. That’s almost two garbage trucks per second! Part of sustainable fashion ethos is to buy less and keep things longer. The theory is simple—purchase less, and the industry will produce less.

You’ll Save Our Dwindling Natural Resources

Clothing production is resource intensive. Synthetic materials require 10x to 25x more energy to produce than natural fibers, but even making a cotton tee takes as much water as you could drink in two-and-a-half years. So when you buy less and keep your clothing longer, you save our precious natural resources.

Sustainable Fashion Saves Our Oceans

You know about the plastic problem—by 2050 plastic will probably outweigh fish in the sea.  But what you might not know is that microplastics are also deadly for our oceans and not so good for us either.  When washed, synthetic garments release plastic microfibers, causing half a million tons to seep into the sea. When you choose to buy clothing made of natural fibers, you’re saying no to these tiny poisonous threads and yes to healthier oceans.

The People Who Make Your Clothes Deserve Better Wages and Working Conditions

Here’s the naked truth: One of the reasons fast fashion is cheap is that garment workers, who are primarily women and sometimes children, are not paid living wages. During deadlines, they often need to work an inhumane number of hours without being paid overtime if they want to keep their jobs. As if that weren’t enough, large retailers make big promises about improving labor practices, but often make the situation appear better than it is.

By choosing to support ethical fashion brands (many of which you can find here at BUHO), you’re helping the people who made your clothes have a better life. Ask the brands you love #whomademyclothes—a movement launched by Fashion Revolution after the Rana Plaza factory collapse. Keep in mind that most brands don’t have pristine supply chains. When it comes to ethical clothing, the main idea is to ask brands for transparency (apps like good on you can help) and put your dollars toward the best brands your budget will allow.

You’ll Help Our Animal Friends

When you fill your closet full of wool, leather, and fur, chances are the animals you’re wearing were treated in ways that would make your skin crawl and your heart hurt. So the first thing you can do to help is to stop buying new items containing these materials. Buying vintage or second-hand pieces extends the lifecycle of those products and cuts down on the cruel animal skin trade.

In addition, leather production has a massive environmental cost. If you do choose to wear leather, consider these humane alternatives, or better yet, choose vegan leather instead. BUHO has plenty of super cute, vegan, eco-friendly options to choose from.

Be a Part of the Minimalist Fashion Movement

Being a part of the minimalist fashion movement isn’t necessarily about creating the smallest capsule wardrobe ever, but it is about curating your closet so that it’s full of items you adore. We believe minimalism is about loving what you own, which probably means that you’ll have less and keep things longer.

Whether that means investing in fewer items at a higher price point, or simply buying things that you can use season after season is completely up to you. It’s all about intention—what are you buying and why? When you’re about to purchase something, we recommend you ask whether you’ll wear it 30 times. If you can’t see yourself wearing that piece over most of the coming year, consider buying something else instead.

Shop Vintage and Let Your Unique Style Shine

Buying vintage is one of the most fun ways to explore sustainable fashion! Not only will you extend the lifecycle of the garments you purchase, but you’ll end up wearing distinctive pieces. And remember—vintage leather shoes and jackets also help you say no to the cruel animal skin trade. At BUHO, we love a good find, which is why we have curated a selection for you.

Choosing Sustainable Fashion Makes You More Stylish

It’s not just about taking care of our planet and each other. Here at BUHO, we love fashion. Yes, we exist to change the industry, but we believe clothing is a means of self-expression. A by-product of living a sustainable, fashion-forward lifestyle is that your style will become more intentional and personal. By supporting brands that stand apart, thrifting, and shopping for vintage pieces, you’ll have more opportunities to create a signature look. And you’ll know that you’re doing everything you can to heal this planet of ours.

So there you have it, eco-fashionista! What are the reasons why you choose to shop sustainably? Leave a comment below—we’d love to hear from you.