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Learn How to Quickly Upcycle an Old Tank Top Into a New Reusable Bag

Article by Emily O'Brien

Photography by Kara Deyoung

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

Did you know the city of Boulder is working hard to become a zero-waste community by 2025? Right now, 90% of what we throw away could be recycled or composted. Together, we can change this.

According to The Sierra Club's Sierra magazine, Americans throw away an estimated 100 billion plastic bags each year, and only 1% to 3% are recycled. Yikes.

“Bringing your own reusable bag is way better than getting a fresh paper or plastic bag every time you go to the grocery store, but just how beneficial depends on how many times you use it. The more your reusable bag goes to the store with you, the more you save on natural resources — petroleum, trees, water — and the lower your carbon footprint,” says Harlin Savage, communication director at Eco-Cycle.

If you live in Boulder, you’re likely already toting around a reusable bag. After the city initiated a ten cents disposable bag charge roughly five years ago, there was a notable drop in usage within the first six months— 68%!

“What your reusable bag is made of is also important. We recommend buying one made with recycled materials for added benefit. You can also make your own bags, which has the added benefit of saving you money,” says Savage.

If your bag is starting to disintegrate or you’re looking to add a new one to your collection, why not opt for a DIY upcycled creation? I love an easy craft just as much as the next person, but if it requires me to a) go to the store for obscure materials or b) put in more than 5 minutes comprehending directions then I’m out. Luckily, this one is as easy as can be — promise! If you have a tank top lying around and a pair of scissors, you can make this in 10 minutes flat. No glue, no sewing. Here’s how:

Step 1: Find an old tank top and turn it inside out. (You could also use a t-shirt by cutting off the sleeves first and making the collar wider.)

Step 2: Mark the bottom of the shirt by drawing a line across it. For a deep bag, draw the line a couple of inches above the bottom of the shirt. For a shallow bag, mark midway.

Step 3: Cut fringe, from the bottom of the shirt to the line you’ve created, about an inch in width. Then take two pieces of fringe from opposite sides and double knot them; continue through to the end. There will be slight holes between the knots. If you want to close those up, take the top strip and knot it again to the bottom of the next strip all the way to the end. (This step is optional depending on what you’ll use the bag for.) Turn right-side out.

Step 4: Voila. Pat yourself on the back because you are ready to roll with your new upcycled bag. Go you! Put it somewhere you’ll remember it, such as the passenger seat of your car or on a hook by your front door. Use, tote, enjoy, repeat!