Sustainability struts its stuff

Third annual Trashion Show turns trash into threads

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Heather Neylon, ’12, remembers the precise moment she stepped onto the runway for the annual Trashion Show.

“It was sophomore year. My friends just came up to me last minute. It was literally the day of the Trashion Show and [they] wanted to make an outfit,” she said. “I literally sewed plastic bags together and made this really ramshackle dress thing. And she made an armored suit out of cardboard.”

“It was probably the worst one at the trashion show that year,” she added. “But it was fun because no one really cared.”

Now on her third year of participation in the Trashion Show, an annual event that showcases creative outfits composed of trash and compost materials, Neylon carefully stitched together her latest outfit, a dress made of coffee filters unsuited for GFC’s machines.

Cloth-like materials suit her best, she explained. For couple years, Neylon crocheted strands of discarded plastic bags into bracelets and worked in the Playshop’s costume shop, building costumes for theatre majors.

“Obviously not all trash can be made into something,” she said. “But there are some things that have potential that you can really use.”

“Really anything you have around the house can be turned into something if you put the time into it,” she added.

“[The show is] a good way to engage the campus community,” said Tiffany Ng, ’14. “Our message is always emphasizing the importance of waste minimization and I think it’s a great way to use trash. It’s not just something you throw away.”

Nathan Malachowski, ’14, the Trashion Show’s Master of Ceremonies, agreed.

“Also, it keeps focus on creative aspects of innovation to environmental problems, not necessarily in that direct sense, but through being creative and having fun,” he said.

Ng plans to put together the outfit for her model, Pranav Aurora, ’14, on Friday before the show. Originally, she only planned to help organize. But when Aurora asked if she would design a costume for him, she agreed.

“I played around with a lot of objects,” she said. “I have old CDs and I smashed them, and I think by now I want to make a turtle design, just because I thought it was very appealing and I’d like to have a water design theme.”

In the three years since its inception, the Trashion Show’s popularity exploded. Maranda Nemeth, ’13, president of Students for Environmental Action, created several committees to handle the logistics of the event.

“It’s really gotten a lot bigger,” she said, citing the rising number of volunteer models. “The number grew enormously more because people know what it was and got much more excited. I hope to see more people than I did last year and definitely the first year.”

Nemeth began planning the show during winter break and believes the planning process is going well.

“It’s not as hard as it used to be,” she said. “The last two years were a lot harder. We already have things established. We already know what to expect and know the things we need to do in order to make it what it is. And everything’s recorded.”

The fashion show has had its fair share of bumps in the road. Nemeth feels nervous inheriting command of an event the former president of SEC, Paula Frisch, passionately promoted and organized. While she won’t be wearing a costume or standing as an MC, she remains optimistic about Saturday’s show.

“I’d rather be working on organizing a rally for the tires to energy facility. That’s what I always get nervous about, too,” she said. “But I think that on Saturday it will be really good.”

The Trashion Show is organized solely by Allegheny students. Malachowski commented on the difficulties of getting already overscheduled students to commit.

“It’s hard to get positive confirmations out of people, but it’s still working out,” he said.

Other problems with faculty arose as well, according to Nemeth.

“On Monday, four of our judges dropped out of five. Abby was calling me and telling me we don’t have any judges,” Nemeth said. “And I was just like, ‘Shit, it’s Monday! It’s in like five days!” So within a couple days, the majority of our judge board dropped. But we picked it up and now we have new judges.”

“Sometimes these things just happen and you think, ‘Oh my God, this is horrible,’” she added.

Nonetheless, the Trashion Show quickly attracted the attention of other organizations. Second Nature, an organization dedicated to promoting sustainability in higher education, has moved Allegheny College into a semi-finalist slot for its Climate Leadership Award. Two other magazines have indicated interest in covering the show.

“There’s a lot more campus interest,” said Neylon. “When we were starting to make our costumes this year someone was already interviewing us for their class.”

Nemeth agreed. “This year we have a lot more coverage. We’re getting so much publicity.”