Tote Bags Made of Jeans: A Denim Upcycling Event

Group of students sit and stand around a table with sewing machines and denim
Williams College students in the Upcycling Denim Event at the Fabrication Lab

In February, ZC Winter Study 2023 Zero Waste interns Camily Hidalgo ‘26 and Khedija Shafi ‘26, organized an Arts and Crafts event to upcycle denim and raise awareness about the importance of repurposing. The event sought to combine student activism and volunteering to help the Williamstown community.

Hands guiding a piece of denim through a sewing machineFor this initiative, Camily and Khedija collected excess denim that had the potential of being reused and repurposed from a local thrift shop, ABC Clothing Sale. In their quest to create a zero waste campus, they decided to repurpose the denim and create tote bags with a mission of reducing waste generated through plastic bags. They collaborated with CLiA, the Fabrication Lab, ABC Clothing, and the Zilkha Center to organize the event. Additionally, with the help of Tony Pisano and EcoRep Ainsley Ogletree ‘25, they taught sewing patterns and how to use sewing machines to make the tote bags. Fifteen Williams College students took part in the initiative which manufactured 20 tote bags that will be donated to the Berkshire Food Pantry (BFP), an initiative that helps alleviate hunger, food insecurity, and social isolation by serving healthy, free meals & connecting people to other resources. To bring sustainability awareness and support the broader community, the tote bags will be used as reusable bags for BFP meal donations. Projects like this demonstrate how creativity can be used to reduce waste and improve sustainability on campus!

Written by Winter Study Zero Waste Interns Camily Hidalgo ‘26 and Khedija Shafi ‘26