‘Trashy’ Fashions That Help Save The Environment

The Envrionmental Steward-ess: Made from the leather of discarded Delta Airlines seat cushions, safety cards, pretzel bags, airline tickets, Sky Magazines and an old pilowcase. Courtesy/ http://recyclerunway.com

By Kirsten Laskey

Flipping through fashion magazines or glancing at those recorded fashion shows in department stores can reveal some pretty wacky-looking clothes.

And while magazine articles and broadcasters will hail these creations as art, they sometimes seem more frivolous than artistic.

One designer, however, takes her unusual creations to the catwalk with a very serious purpose – to help save the environment.

Just what is unique about her clothes? It’s not fabric that gets used but what resides in the trash can. Whether it is junk mail catalogues or car parts, Santa Fe artist Nancy Judd designs to spread messages about the environmental consequences suffered by our decisions as well as how our actions can help protect the Earth.

Judd is teaching others how to make their own “trashy” looks during two workshops. The workshop held today from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. was open to beginning designers. Sunday’s workshop held from 1-5:30 p.m. at the Fuller Lodge Art Center caters to more advance clothing creators.

Judd’s workshops not only promote environmental sustainability but also the Trash Fashion Show Contest, set for Sept. 15 as part of the Next Big Idea Festival.

Los Alamos County is hosting this weekend’s workshops as well as the upcoming fashion show. The County’s Environmental Services Specialist, Tom Nagawiecki, explained the purpose behind these events.

“The workshops and fashion show are an innovative and fun way to raise participants’ and observers’ awareness of the myriad of materials we are currently ‘wasting’ by throwing them into the trash. By shining the spotlight on this wasteful behavior and showing one creative and slightly wacky way to value our trash, we can raise awareness and hopefully begin to change some of our wasteful behaviors,” he said.

Nagawiecki added that he got the idea for the fashion show and the workshops after seeing similar events in Santa Fe.

Photo: Eco-Flamenco: Made from parachute scraps and cereal boxes. Courtesy/ http://recyclerunway.com

“Our local trash fashion contest has developed as the result of a multitude of different experiences and collaborations,” Nagawiecki said. “I was first exposed to the idea a couple years back when I attended a similar trash fashion contest hosted in Santa Fe. That is what planted the seed and then as I got to know some of the individuals involved in that fashion show and attended a couple of local recycled fashion shows put on at Pinon Elementary and Chamisa Elementary the idea started to blossom.

“Then the idea was brought up at one of our planning meetings for the Next Big Idea Festival and I worked with staff from the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation to submit a grant application to New Mexico Clean and Beautiful. Our grant application was accepted, and we were able to start organizing the workshops and trash fashion contest.”

Nagawiecki was encouraged to collaborate with Judd on the project after seeing her work.

“I saw some of her work at the Recycle Santa Art Festival and I was very impressed. I also learned more about her work through colleagues in the recycling field and by subscribing to her Recycle Runway email updates. When we started to draft the grant for the trash fashion contest, I knew that having Nancy host some local workshops would be a huge asset to the community due to her abilities as an artist and an educator,” he said.

Judd held her first recycled fashion in 1998 – while working as the recycling coordinator for the City of Santa Fe, according to a press release.

Judd said she “realized that art and fashion could be used to raise the consciousness of the public about recycling in a fun and positive way.”

As a result, Judd started an event called the Recycle Santa Fe Art Market. She is invited by recycling coordinators around the country to give fashion shows in their communities.

“My choice to use waste materials to create couture garments is multi-faceted,” she said. “From an artistic stand point, the challenge of transforming trash into elegant fashions is very exciting. I love watching people discover that what they thought was a glamorous dress, is made from garbage, and recycling classic styles from the 1900s-1950s works to enhance that juxtaposition.”

Crime Scene: Made from police tape gathered across the west. Courtesy/ http://recyclerunway.com

“As an environmental educator I can use the garments to initiate a deeper ‘conversation’ with my audience about environmental stewardship in a creative context. On a personal level, working with garbage has been an often unconscious way of working through emotional challenges,” Judd said.

Her creations are not really meant to be worn nor are they machine washable or extremely durable. Rather, these clothes are meant to educate.

“I want to change the way the people think about their relationship to the environment. I want them to realize that it is the culmination of each of our individual moment-to-moment decisions that has caused the polluted air, the polluted water and the polluted land as well as the global warming and species extinction that we hear about everyday,” Judd said. “Likewise it is our moment-to-moment decisions at home, at work, at school, at church and in all our social activities that can mitigate the damage we have created.

“Change starts with small steps, many people already recycle and I want to build on this. What else can you do, would you compost? Would you be willing to drive less and walk, bus or carpool more?”

Nagawiecki encourages one of these steps toward change to be attending this weekend’s workshops.

“The workshops will be fun and educational events that give residents a great opportunity to further develop their design skills and learn about the importance of valuing our waste as a resource,” he said. “It is a great opportunity to learn a new skill and generate a fashionable garment that tells an important story. The Trash Fashion contest will allow contestants to show off their recycled garments in a fun and energetic atmosphere while competing to win prizes.”

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