What could be more American than a pair of blue jeans? We love them here in the U.S., but they have also become a worldwide phenomenon, and now most people in developed nations own at least a couple of pairs (not to mention jean jackets, denim skirts and the like). But along with all that denim love comes plenty of denim waste; the upshot is that this tough fabric can be recycled (into insulation or other fabric) and upcycled, into all sorts of things besides clothes. Jake and Maya's upcycled denim challenge is just one of the most recent ways fashion folk have been encouraging us to reuse our old jeans, creatively. 

There are tons of ideas (seriously, so many!) on Jake and Maya's Pinterest page; here are my favorites. 

recycled jean placemat

Messy kids? Or a cowboy- or Western-theme party? These placemats would be perfect for either one. 

chair upholstered in old jeans

This cool denim-upholstered chair looks not only comfy, but one that could take some rough-and-tumble wear. 

denim lunch bags

Of course you can make all sorts of bags from old jeans, but these denim lunch bags are way more stylish (and washable and reusable) compared to paper bags, so they both reuse (the jeans) and reduce (waste). 

denim necklace

A necklace made from denim? Who would have thought that could be so pretty? 

denim storage

Hip, creative storage (and tough too); these storage pockets could work in an office or child's room. 

If you don't think a whale made from denim is one of the cutest things ever, I'm a little concerned about your personal cute-meter settings. 

Related recycling ideas on MNN:

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

6 cool things you can make from old jeans
Denim is a super-versatile material that can be upcycled into all sorts of usefulness.