What Can I Do with Old BJJ Gis?
As the shopping season – where discounted deals trigger compulsive desires to acquire fresh, new gis for, well, yourself – winds down, there’s always one question that reigns. What can I do with all my old jiu-jitsu gis?
Some of us wear them down to tattered shreds. Others toss them out at the first sight of wear or funk. Some even keep them into perpetuity, neatly folded and permanently housed in the closet where they occupy space but don’t pay rent.
Unfortunately, these options don’t make the best use of old and unwanted gis. So here are some alternatives:
Donate to a Non-Profit Program
The best, and most altruistic, option to give new life to jiu-jitsu gis are to donate them to a worthy non-profit program.
As jiu-jitsu has grown – and has become more costly – more programs have popped up providing free or low cost jiu-jitsu training to kids and adults in low income areas. Of course, these programs often run on volunteer help and shoestring budgets. And due to the relatively high cost of jiu-jitsu gis, it’s often difficult to keep the students suited up. It’s not uncommon for students to have a single gi.
So, you can be sure that your unwanted gis will be greatly appreciated. Make sure any donated gis are gently used and washed. You might even take the extra step in removing your sewn-on or hot-pressed logos (a hair dryer and tweezers works well for the latter).
Don’t have any programs nearby? Here are some options:
- Samurai School – Austin, TX
- Level Up BJJ – Los Angeles, CA (and others)
- Gis for GIs – Hampstead, NC
- Terere Kids Project – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
- Guardian Gym – Bay Area, CA (and others)
- Kids World BJJ – east Los Angeles, CA
Another option that’s becoming more popular – not just for your gis, but for all your used fabrics – is to recycle them. When we think of “recycling” we often think of plastic, paper and glass… but fabrics – especially cotton – can also be recycled.
You have essentially two options to recycle your gis. The first is to send them to a company that recycles fabrics. These companies then shred the fabrics and respin the material into yarn again. Some cities will have a textiles recycling program, but yours does not, here are some alternatives:
The second recycling option might surprise you: compost your gis. Cotton is a natural, biodegradable material that helps to hold water in soil. That doesn’t mean that you should just toss your gi in the compost bin… as with all your compost, the smaller the pieces, the easier and faster they break down.
A final option – and one of my favorites – is to get crafty with your old gis.
Think about it: your jiu-jitsu gi is made up of large swaths of uninterrupted fabric. There’s a lot that you can do with it. Some require needle and thread (which, c’mon, isn’t that difficult), but some just require a bit of ingenuity.
Here are some options:
- Gi material bag or backpack – For those who are handy with a sewing machine… Make yourself a new gi or gym bag, made from gis! It doesn’t even have to be that complicated; just a simple drawstring bag is surprisingly easy to craft.
- Cool blanket or throw – You’ve seen people make quilts out of their old university or IBJJF t-shirts, right? Do the same with your gis! Cut them up into squares, sew them together, and put a soft liner on the back.
- Pots for plants – You don’t even need to sew this one. Cut the sleeves off, tie off one side with string, and walha! This is especially useful for cultivating seedlings in your greenhouse. If you want to add a bit of structure – and waterproofing – to it, you can always spray paint the outside of it with your favorite color.
- Grip trainers – Not sure how many grip trainers you need in your life, but at least one gi will find new life this way. You don’t even need to cut it up, if you don’t want to. Just throw an old gi jacket over a sturdy beam and you instantly have makeshift equipment for rows or pull-ups.
- Shop rags – At the very least – especially for those really used, ratty gis – you can cut them up into handy squares, to use for shop or household rags.
Really, the possibilities are endless if you have a strong imagination.
The point is: don’t just toss your old gis in the landfill or keep them so long that you become a candidate for Hoarders. Do the world a favor – and accrue some major Karma points – and donate, recycle, or repurpose your old BJJ gis.