Dressed up in Green

UNR’s Trashion Show gets creative with recycled materials

Erinn Thomas, wearing a dress she made out of RN&R’s Green section before the Trashion Show

Erinn Thomas, wearing a dress she made out of RN&R’s Green section before the Trashion Show

Photo by Kat Kerlin

For more photos of the Green dress, visit the Green with NV blog at www.newsreview.com/greenwithnv

Erinn Thomas is a girl after my own heart. When the UNR student told me she was making a dress out of my RN&R Green columns to model at last week’s “Trashion Show,” I simply had to see it.

Thomas works as an administrative assistant for UNR’s Academy for the Environment, which was one of the event’s sponsors. She’d saved 31 issues of the RN&R. “This was the perfect opportunity to use these articles I’ve been collecting,” she said before the show, snugly wrapped in the newspaper dress that took her six hours to make. She called it, “We Kerlin Up and Die to Go Green with NV.” The name was devised by her advisor, Jen Huntleysmith of the Academy for the Environment.

The Trashion show, organized by Delia Martinez, president of the EnAcT group at UNR, was meant to be a quirky way of reminding people to reuse what typically is considered waste.

“The point is to inspire people to realize that everything has a value … and to find new ways to recycle,” said Martinez.

“People do not get excited about sustainability,” said Thomas, “but they do about fashion. And Trashion shows are just a way to make it fun and make people more environmentally aware.”

The models—preschoolers, teens, UNR students, and media professionals—strutted down the catwalk in “clothes” made from duct tape, purple onion bags, coffee bean bags, plastic bags, wine corks, bubble wrap, egg cartons, snack wrappers, lollipop wrappers (The “Dum Dum Dress” was actually quite pretty), Starbucks gift cards, CDs, old VHS tape, inner tubes, shower curtains and more.

I couldn’t help noticing that everything they were wearing looked very clean. Much of it looked downright new. I’m nearly positive that the duct tape wasn’t previously used, and coffee filters—artfully employed on one skirt—aren’t typically gleaming white once they’ve been used. So, despite its best intentions, I think there must be some waste involved in putting together this Trashion show. That said, the majority of designs were made from recycled materials—like the mesh bags that once held oranges or onions, the snack wrappers, the six-pack plastic rings.

“Certainly, the rule is second-use only,” said Martinez. But a handful of designers added a few first-hand materials. “When you say ‘trash,’ people don’t always really get it all the time.”

And while few people would wear these fashions outside of this show, Earth Day or Halloween, the recycled fashion industry is legitimate. My sister has a cool green purse made out of old seatbelts. Artisans Fairtrade in Reno carries a bunch of tote bags and purses made from recycled materials, like rice bags and chains. Ecoist.com carries recycled candy wrapper handbags. I’ve seen other purses made from recycled tires, license plates and lunch boxes. So there’s something to this.

Someone recently said to me that recycling is a myth, and in a way that’s true. Every new thing has to come from somewhere and ultimately has to go somewhere, so it’s best to reduce and reuse—and get creative in doing so.

As for my Green section becoming a dress, well, it’s better than birdcage liner.