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We're Making T-Shirts Disappear

T-shirts make up a large percentage of the waste that goes from op shops to landfill here in New Zealand.

When you consider that each t-shirt uses 2,700 litres of water, just to produce the cotton (according to the World Wildlife Fund), it is a travesty that so much is worn very little, then sent to landfill.

At Intercept we try to save as many t-shirts as possible.

This is the journey of a t-shirt with us.

Most of the t-shirts are cut down into yarn for use by our makers and for sale in the Intercept store, within the Salvation Army store. Any cool printed designs are cut off first and reused to update other clothing upcycles. They're great for covering a hole mend or a stain.

T-shirt yarn has a myriad of uses, from twine in the garden, ties on parcels, to making into bags, mats and baskets.

Mari - making t-shirt yarn into a place mat.

In making t-shirt yarn, the hems are first cut off. These make fabulous dog toys when square knotted.

Many are also made into t-shirt bags, which are welcomed by a local op shop. These take a quick cut around the neck and armholes and a seam across the bottom. We make sure that these have no stains or pills, so look good.

Some of the remaining cotton scraps have become guinea pig bedding, which then becomes weedmat under the bananas, as it will eventually decompose.

Most of the remaining bits are chopped into rag size pieces - some of which are sold in the Intercept store. Painters and mechanics are usually happy to take these off your hands, if you are doing this for yourself.

Finally, any scrappy bits have become the filling for draught stoppers that we are making - to sell, but also to donate to Northland's Healthy Homes programme.

Apart from these things, there are so many uses for unwanted t-shirts - Sherie's beautiful cupcake pincushions being just one example. We will be continually developing new ideas to use them up.

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