We’ve been recycling clothing for as long as we can remember. From hand-me-downs to taking up hemlines to sewing a button back on, the do-it-yourself fashion once reserved for small fixes is finding its way to stores, websites and catwalks. And you can be a part of it simply by using your own clothes.

Whether you call it recycling, refashioning, repurposing, reclaiming or something else, it’s the act of showing off your individuality as well as taking a stand toward consumer culture, the clothing industry and the environment that makes it valuable.

Tara White, founder and designer of Embody Clothing, which is sold across Toronto and Ottawa, says that she began making clothing because she didn’t like the kinds of fashions sold in malls.

“I found it really uninspired, and it seemed like everyone was wearing the same uniform,” she says. “I liked the idea of when I’d make something, it would be one-of-a-kind. I started making clothes for myself, started making more and then was selling.”

Tina Sparkles, a designer in Austin, Texas, recently released Little Green Dresses, a book with 50 patterns for all different kinds of outfits.

“I feel really passionate about how our consumer culture is messing things up in the world and I think that gaining an awareness of that is important and I want to help spread that word,” she says.

Sparkles feels the idea of being eco-friendly is hurting now because it can be too expensive and limited, but people are still interested. If you don’t want to use your own clothes, you can go to a thrift store, garage sale or even set up a clothes swap with your friends.

“It takes your own time and creativity,” she says. “My inspiration comes from a lot of places. I love looking at vintage clothing and the old shapes and tiny details, trying to figure out a way to incorporate them into something new.”

If you’re interested, start off small. Find cheap clothing at Value Village that you have no qualms with ripping apart. You may get something out of it you’ll love.