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Students repurpose trash into fashion

By Kaitlin McCabe '16

March 6, 2014

Garbage bags, Valentine’s Day mementos and newspaper strips replaced haute couture on the runway for Hamilton’s second annual “Trashion Show” on March 2. The event was part of Recyclemania, an eight-week intercollegiate competition that encourages student to reduce waste consumption on campuses.

HEAG views Recyclemania as a pivotal point in the year for raising awareness about waste reduction on the Hill.  Hannah Haskell ’15 said, “We have so much potential to reduce our waste production and increase our recycling rate here at Hamilton. All we need is students to take the time to think before they throw things out.”

This year, the efforts of the Hamilton Environmental Action Group (HEAG) and the Recycling Task Force (RTF) have produced impressive results. According to recent CCN/NY Negawatt Challenge statuses, Hamilton has been leading local New York colleges, such as Colgate, Saint Lawrence and Union, in waste reduction, having reduced approximately 3.4 percent of all waste on campus.  A survey conducted by Physical Plant recorded that during the week of February 17, the College recycled 8,620 lbs. of material, segregated 8550 lbs. of food scrap waste for composting, and landfilled 32,340 lbs. of material—thus, the total landfill diversion rate was 34.7 percent. RTF is also pleased that an impressive 150 students signed the organization’s Recycling Pledge.

Interested members of the Hamilton community can follow the College’s reduction efforts compared to other schools and see the efforts of individual dorms on http://buildingdashboard.net/hamilton/#/hamilton.

RTF’s Trashion Show was proposed last year by Nora Boylan ’15 to raise awareness about Recyclemania in a way that is fun and engaging for the College community.   Victoria Blumenfeld ’16 explained, “The goal of the Trashion Show was to host a unique event that would inspire students to be creative yet sustainable.”

The level of enthusiasm and participation of 2014 Trashion Show surpassed that generated by the first Trashion Show. The event showcased unique entries that used a wide variety of materials ranging from newspapers and trash bags to egg cartons and roses. The attention to Recyclemania’s main focuses greatly pleased the judges.

“The participants incorporated important aspects of the RTF’s goals in their outfits.  We saw references to composting, plastic recycling, paper recycling, and even overall waste reduction,” said Jackson Kushner ’17.

McKenzie Foster ’14 was awarded first place for her outfit “American Beauty,” which was made from old Valentines Day roses, a trash bag, and dental floss. The longtime designer said, “The greatest inspiration for my outfit is my personal commitment to being unique and my commitment to constantly push the envelope in all of my endeavors…I wanted to combine an item that we perceive as beautiful, roses, with an item that we throw our garbage into, trash bags.”

Foster also participated in last year’s competition, wearing an outfit made of banana peels called “Bananas Foster.”

Second place was awarded to Ali Crivelli ’14 for “Eggcellence,” a full ensemble that consisted of an egg carton top, a skirt made of several grocery bags, and accessories made from a chocolate box and bottles.

Though next week marks Hamilton’s final week of Recyclemania, it does not signify the end of RTF’s efforts.  To maintain the momentum created by the annual competition and to further decrease waste consumption on campus, RTF is focusing on developing its composting program, which will offer students the opportunity to have a compost bucket in their suite or room. This program is an attempt to divert food waste from the landfill. Currently, the organization has distributed 22 buckets across campus, but this program hopes to increase that number significantly.

The Trashion Show, and Recyclemania, served as a reminder of the ways individuals can reduce and reuse daily, in ways that are both trivial and creative.

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