Thornton Academy News

  • Middle School
Upcycling Old Clothes: Sustainable Actions at the TAMS Science Fair
Ayanah Proulx

TAMS put on their first annual science fair last week. We are so proud of our students and extremely impressed by all of their hard work!

Charli Sydnor chose to focus on "upcycling" clothing - a fun trend that has become part of the new wave of sustainable fashion 👚Check out her project, "Upcycling old clothes"


I am going to try to fix the 26 million pounds of clothes that are thrown away each year. I picked this because I like to recycle and I like to give clothes new life so I thought this would be a good project to do. Clothes build up a lot of waste I mean 26 million pounds is kind of a lot. And most of those clothes go to landfills where they can leak into rivers causing unsafe waters. There are warehouses holding about 5,000 pounds of clothes waiting to be shipped that is a waste of time and money. Clothes can get lost in the trash and kill animals and birds. There is all this waste but humans keep buying and throwing away clothes.


Ways that you can use things lying around your house to refurbish clothes: 

•You can use old tin cans and cut them up to size and put them on the holes of your jeans. You can also use old clothes to do that. Use everyday items like if you want to make a crop top use scissors to cut the shirt. This may sound weird but you can use electronics too. Put battery powered lights  on your jeans. Just like in the first paragraph recycling and refurbishing clothes can help the environment.


The importance of recycling:

If everyone on the Earth recycled there would be way less endangered animals. And less waste in the ocean which means more sea turtles and other endangered sea creatures. If there were more recycling bins in schools and homes more paper could be recycled to make more paper which means more trees which means more air. We need a company that will make paper out of just recycled items so people will recycle more. Recycling makes our lives, animals lives, and the environment better.

Most people think that it is just plastic and litter that is affecting the environment. When you throw away clothes they get sent to a landfill where they are burned. Clothes are not meant to be burnt so some of the cloth or fibers that are in that piece of clothing still remain. Sometimes the old fibers and/or what’s left of the clothes get into water causing it to be unsafe for people and animals to use. and animals to use. They can also drift in the wind and a bird or animal could think it is food and choke on it. Clothes that are thrown away because they have a rip or a stain get sent to landfills where they are burned. You see, clothes are not meant to be burnt. So when they are burnt fibers and/or some of the cloth is left behind which can leak into water ways making them unsafe for humans

You think that that sock with a hole in it that you threw away wouldn’t make a negative impact on the environment but it really does.     


Some ways that you can help are: (this may seem gross)

You can go around (with gloves!) and if you see and clothes on the side of the road or in the water or by any trash cans, pick them up! Of course if you are doing this, pick up litter too. Surprisingly, even if you just look around there is a lot.


How I upcycled:

I took clothes that were bland or out of fashion and made them trendy and unique. I made a tie-dye shirt, added patches to a jacket, my grandmother made a rug out of old wool that would have been thrown away, and my aunt made a pan holder out of scrap fabric.


Hypothesis: That It would help the environment around my neighborhood, and recycle old fabrics.  Conclusion: Correct, I was getting the trash cans the other day and surprisingly When there are usually little fuzzies or socks there weren’t any. And my mom and I found a couple old blankets around my house that we were going to throw away and are going to give them to my grandmother.

Claim: My hypothesis was supported. Evidence: There was either no or a lot less small fuzzies of fabric around my neighborhood.  There was one problem and that was that I had some access fabrics that I used and I am going to give those to my grandmother. Reasoning: This happened because people in my neighborhood where helping out and not throwing away old clothes and fabric. I observed that our neighborhood was cleaner and There were also more birds nests without fuzz in them. The problems where that there were still small fuzzies. A lot less but they were still there. If I were to change anything I would try to get my whole neighborhood to help out not only a few people.     


Not only me but how can people reduce the pollution of clothes in the environment?

Step 1: I took clothes that I wanted to throw away and put them in a box.

Step 2: I took the clothes that I didn’t like or I thought where out of fashion and upcycled them.

Step 3:  I wore them for a week.

Step 4: I wrote down and measured if the people were acting meaner, nicer, weirder, and if it changed the way people looked, acted, and talked around me.  

Step 5: In the last step I recored my conclusion.



Old clothes with minor holes and things like that

Sewing stuff,


Fabric glue

A box




 Clothing Item              Meaner                    Nicer                 Weirder             Avoided Me        Talked to me differently

Tie-dyed T-shirt

Not really mean

Treated me the same

I got some weird looks

No one avoided me

No one talked to me differently


Old overalls

That i mended and added buttons

Not really mean

Treated me the same

No one treated my weird

Nope no one avoided me

I did get lots of comments on how they liked them.


Coat with patches and buttons

No one was meaner to me.

No one was nicer to me

No one treated me weird

No one avoided me

I got lots of comments and one of my friends asked if they could borrow it sometime.


Ripped jeans

No one treated me meaner

A little actually

No one treated me weird

No one avoided me

I got lots of nice comments.


Thank you Charli Sydnor for allowing us to share your awesome project with the TAMS community!