Salvaging trash for the sake of style

    Combining the allures of fashion, freebies and live music with the potential for a green, sustainable campus, the College of William and Mary Student Environmental Action Coalition celebrate America Recycles Day Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Sunken Garden. The event will feature a recycled fashion show at 4 p.m., intended to encourage students to find creative ways to reuse old materials with the incentive of free food, entertainment and the chance to win free WaWa gift cards.

    The fashion show will feature dresses and outfits made from old clothes as well as used recyclable materials such as cardboard, magazines, newspaper, plastic bags and cans, assembled with tape, string or wire. The reusable creations will be judged by College President Taylor Reveley as well as professor Regina Root, Katherine Downs ’13 and Blaise Springfield ’13.

    Professor Root’s freshman seminar “Ethical Fashion” examines sustainable design practices and the fashion industry’s impact on human laborers as well as the environment. These two facets of fashion and environmentalism will combine in SEAC’s fashion show, furthering the group’s overall goal of increasing recycling awareness.

    Currently, the College’s recycling program is maintained by student volunteers from a variety of campus organizations, including SEAC, which manages the recycling at large events.

    “We have a hard time at football games — we end up filling 10 to 12 trash cans with recycling, but people just don’t do it — they don’t have as much awareness [in outdoor venues],” SEAC member Stephanie Burton ’10 said. “The College’s recycling system is run by student volunteers, which is not very sustainable. This is something the College should be addressing.”

    Many groups, off-campus organizations included, have contributed to SEAC’s American Recycles Day event.
    “So many people are really into the cause, so it has turned into an awesome collaborative effort between SEAC, the Student Assembly and [Alpha Phi Omega],” Burton said. “We all want to try and promote awareness and teach students about recycling.”

    Dining Services will donate sugar cookies and apple cider as free refreshments. Recycled notebooks have been provided by APO, free Harris Teeter reusable shopping bags will be given away and “Take Back the Tap” water bottles will be for sale. Other entertainment will include four bands as well as a 24-foot parachute like the ones used in elementary gym classes for the audience to play with.

    Recent research by the Committee on Sustainability has highlighted inefficiencies within the College’s waste management system. In response, SEAC’s projects have become more ambitious and policy driven, encouraging the College to enact more sustainable practices. While the group has campus wide goals, the America Recycles Day event will exemplify imaginative ways for individual students to reuse old materials.

    “The environmental implications of resource use go beyond just waste versus recycling, and this event aims to highlight the value of reusing materials and reducing consumption overall,” said Caroline Cress ’12. “The fashion show is all about promoting fun ways to get people thinking about how everyday materials can be reused in practical and innovative ways.” Besides the official display of wearable fashions, the SEAC event will feature a craft table where students can learn how to make a wallet out of an orange juice carton, for example.

    Jane Morris ’13, whose wardrobe already feaures a salvaged item, is preparing a dress made from brown packaging, plastic bags, old beads and bottle caps. Her pants are a hodge-podge of colorful fabrics that hung on the wall of the SEAC office for years.

    “I thought, ‘there is no point in them just hanging there,’ so I took them down. I’m going to create a piece of art to go back up on the wall in its place,” she said as she sat on the floor stringing beads and bottle caps together.

    “After materials cross the line into the dump, whether they are haute couture, or old refrigerators, or what have you, once they cross that line, they are trash and it is illegal to take it out,” Morris said. “We are ahead of the curve — we are finding beauty in people’s trash.”


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