How to Recycle American Eagle Jeans and Give Them New Life

American Eagle jeans have been a staple in many closets for decades. Known for their comfort and durability, it’s easy to hold onto them for years. But when it comes time to part with your trusty American Eagle denim, don’t throw them out! Recycling your old jeans is an environmentally-conscious decision that reduces textile waste and gives the material new life.

How to Recycle American Eagle Jeans

Key Summary

  • Recycling American Eagle jeans is better for the planet, reducing landfill waste, pollution, and the use of virgin resources.
  • Simple preparation like washing, removing accessories and hardware, and repairing damage helps maximize the recycling value.
  • Numerous thrift stores, denim brands, and textile recyclers offer convenient ways to donate American Eagle jeans for recycling.
  • Mechanical shredding, chemical breakdown and upcycling are common methods for processing recycled denim into renewed cotton fibre.
  • With recycled American Eagle jeans, the sturdy cotton material can be remade into housing insulation, fresh textiles, and more.
  • Taking a few easy steps to recycle American Eagle jeans instead of throwing them away gives the jeans new purpose while significantly reducing environmental impact.

Why You Should Recycle Your American Eagle Jeans

There are many excellent reasons to recycle jeans instead of tossing them in the garbage:

  • Reduces landfill waste: Jeans take up a significant amount of space in landfills, where they will not naturally degrade for about 200 years. Throwing old jeans in the trash is not sustainable for our planet.
  • Conserves natural resources: Making jeans from recycled cotton uses much less water and energy than producing new cotton material. It also reduces the need for toxic pesticides used in cotton farming.
  • Prevents pollution: tossing jeans into landfills can lead to the release of harmful chemicals, dyes, bleaches and other finishes from the materials that end up in the soil and groundwater. Proper recycling prevents this pollution.
  • Supports domestic jobs: The textile recycling industry in the U.S. employs over 17,000 people. Donating or recycling jeans helps support these green jobs.
  • Provides affordable clothing: Recycled jeans are often turned into insulation or fibres that can be woven into new fabrics and upcycled into new clothing, which are frequently more budget-friendly.
  • Completes the lifecycle: Like aluminum cans or paper, clothing should also go through a continuous cycle of use, recovery and reuse. Recycling jeans keeps the materials circulating through this closed loop system.

By taking the time to properly recycle those beloved American Eagle denim pieces that are worn out, damaged or no longer fit, you can make a positive environmental impact. Read on to learn all the ins and outs of how to give American Eagle jeans new life through recycling.

How to Prepare American Eagle Jeans for Recycling

American Eagle Jeans

Getting American Eagle jeans ready for recycling is quick and easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Check pockets and linings: Be sure to empty all pockets and linings and dispose of any tissues, receipts or other debris before recycling.
  • Wash the jeans: Give them a final machine wash to remove odours, stains or other residue. Avoid using fabric softener, which leaves a coating that’s hard to remove later.
  • Remove accessories: Any non-denim embellishments like studs, buttons, ribbons or zippers should be taken off prior to recycling. Their metals and plastics can contaminate the cotton recycling process.
  • Consider alterations: Cutting off any obviously worn or damaged portions of the jeans helps ensure you’ll get the most value back when recycling.
  • Dry thoroughly: Put jeans in the dryer on high heat until completely dry. This kills any bacteria and prevents mildew growth during storage and transportation for recycling.
  • Bag tightly: Fold jeans smoothly and place them in plastic bags, squeezing out all excess air. This keeps them clean and compact.

Now your American Eagle jeans are ready for their second act!

Where to Donate American Eagle Jeans for Recycling

Multiple organizations accept old jeans like American Eagle for textile recycling. Here are some of the top options:


This well-known nonprofit thrift chain accepts jeans donations at any retail location. They will then be sorted for resale or recycling. Goodwill keeps textiles out of landfills and uses revenue to fund job training programs.

Blue Jeans Go Green

A program by the cotton company Cotton Incorporated collects unwanted denim for recycling into the insulation. Their insulation is donated to communities in need of rebuilding and eco-friendly construction.

For Days

This sustainable basics brand lets you ship your American Eagle jeans back to them for recycling. They’ll break down the cotton into credits to use towards new For Days clothing purchases.


At any Levi’s retail store, you can bring old jeans of any brand to drop in their recycling bins. The denim is broken down, re-spun into new fibres and woven into insulation and fabric for new Levi’s products.


Similar to Levi’s, Madewell’s stores have recycling bins to collect pre-worn jeans. The material is recycled via Cotton’s Blue Jeans Go Green into housing insulation.


As part of their garment collecting initiative, H&M stores will take donations of any textiles for recycling. Just look for their special recycling bins.

The North Face

The outerwear company collects used clothing and footwear of any brand at its stores. Items are recycled into insulation and building materials by partners like Cotton Incorporated.

Check to see if your city or local waste management department also offers textile recycling programs before throwing old jeans in the trash. Your American Eagle jeans can likely be recycled through various convenient drop-off locations and mail-back options.

You can also read on; Stores like American Eagle

How American Eagle Jeans Are Recycled

Once you’ve donated American Eagle jeans for recycling, what actually happens to them? There are a few common recycling methods to break the cotton back down and give it renewed purpose:


Jeans are shredded into small scraps and fibres. This “shoddy” material can be combined with other fibres like wool to produce recycled yarn for fabrics. It can also be used as stuffing and insulation.

Chemical Breakdown

Using chemicals like glycolysis, the indigo dyes and cotton fibres in denim are separated. The dye-free cotton can be respun into new recycled yarn and woven or knitted into fresh fabrics.

Mechanical Processing

Technology like rippers and hammermills break jeans into cotton fibres mechanically rather than chemically. The fibres are cleaned, carded into rolls then spun into yarn again.


When still wearable, jeans may be directly upcycled into new products instead of broken down. For example, once-worn American Eagle jeans could become a revived tote bag or pair of shorts.

In most cases, recycled cotton fibres from American Eagle jeans will go on to fill insulation, get woven into recycled denim, or become part of another textile like canvas. It’s fulfilling to know your old faithful jeans can serve a valuable afterlife purpose.

Tips for Maximizing Recycling Value

To ensure American Eagle jeans fetch the highest recycling value and use, here are some handy tips:

  • Opt for donating or recycling jeans in bulk whenever possible. This reduces processing costs per pound.
  • Choose lighter washes. Lighter jeans require less bleaching chemicals in the recycling process.
  • Remove blemishes pre-recycling. Stains, holes or excessive wear lower the quality and value of the material.
  • Recycle sooner than later. Jeans that are newer and not heavily worn down recycle better.
  • Fold neatly when transporting for donation. Wrinkled or soiled jeans may be rejected.
  • Ask for receipts. Some recyclers provide receipts for tax deductions on donated goods.

With some prep work and research into local recycling options, those drawers full of American Eagle jeans from high school don’t have to meet a landfill demise. Recycling denim extends its lifecycle, keeps waste out of landfills and allows the sturdy cotton material to be reborn into stylish new textiles. Your beloved jeans deserve an eco-friendly second act – it just takes a few simple steps to make it happen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Recycling American Eagle Jeans

Can I put old American Eagle jeans in my curbside recycling bin?

Unfortunately, most standard curbside recycling programs do not accept textiles like old jeans. The clothing materials can clog up and contaminate machinery optimized for common recyclables like paper, plastic, glass and metal. Special textile recycling is required to repurpose American Eagle denim.

What types of American Eagle jeans can be recycled?

The cotton material in any American Eagle jeans – whether skinny, bootcut, relaxed, distressed, coloured, patterned etc. – can be recycled. As long as it’s made of mostly cotton denim, American Eagle jeans are eligible for textile recycling programs.

Do I need to wash American Eagle jeans before recycling them?

It’s recommended to machine wash American Eagle jeans before donating or recycling them. A final cleaning removes odours, debris in pockets, or any chemicals from spills and stains that could contaminate the recycling process.

Can buttons, rivets and zippers be left on recycled American Eagle jeans?

No, any non-cotton embellishments should be removed prior to recycling jeans. Metal hardware like buttons, rivets and zippers must be taken off. Their different materials can jam equipment used to shred and process the denim cotton.

Will my American Eagle jeans be recycled if they have some wear and holes?

Lightly worn American Eagle jeans with minimal damage can still be recycled, but may yield lower-quality recycled cotton fibre. Jeans with large holes, tears, and excessive abrasion are more difficult to process. For maximum value, donate or recycle gently used jeans that are not extremely threadbare.

Can I recycle American Eagle jeans if I’ve shortened the length myself?

Yes, as long as any hem or alterations you’ve made to American Eagle jeans are sewn with standard cotton thread, they pose no problems for recycling. The added stitching will be removed right along with the original during the shredding process.

What happens if I throw away American Eagle jeans instead of recycling them?

Tossing old American Eagle jeans in the garbage needlessly sends them to landfills, where they will sit for up to 200 years without decomposing. Throwing denim in the trash wastes reusable material and takes up limited landfill space. Always opt to donate or recycle jeans instead.

What kinds of new products can my recycled American Eagle jeans become?

Once recycled, the cotton from your American Eagle jeans can be remade into a variety of useful materials like housing insulation, furniture padding, or erosion control barriers. The fibres can also be spun into fresh yarns to weave new recycled denim for clothing or upholstery fabric. Your old jeans get a new sustainable life!

Recycling American Eagle denim takes minimal effort while keeping textile waste out of landfills. With numerous donation drop spots and mail-back programs available, giving your jeans an eco-friendly second life is easy and rewarding. What are you waiting for – go breathe fresh life into those vintage American Eagle favourites!


Recycling American Eagle jeans is an easy, eco-friendly decision. Simple preparation steps optimize their value for textile recycling programs. The jeans’ cotton can then be remade into insulation, new fabrics, and more – giving the materials new life and diverting waste from landfills. With a little effort, those worn American Eagle favorites can make a positive environmental impact.

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