The distinction between trash and fashion has been stretched to its breaking point.
Whenever there is a challenge involving reusing materials on Project Runway, everyone wonders how they do it. It turns out that challenges such as this are in fact possible, as evidenced by the very imaginative eco-friendly looks presented at Wednesday's Passion for Eco-Fashion event.
The Student Union lobby played host to the eco-friendly looks presented by various clubs and organizations to help promote environmental awareness. Clubs could win money and Student Association credit for demonstrating creativity and eco-friendliness with their outfits. Along with the fashions, participating clubs and organizations such as AMVETS and the Environmental Network were presenting their reusable and sustainable products.
Some clubs provided a single fashion while others presented multiple. Free food and door prizes were offered, as well as free reusable water bottles to the first 50 visitors. From dresses made out of newspaper and skirts fashioned from Wegmans bags to shoes made out of caution tape, cardboard shirts, and magazine collage dresses, the outfits used a variety of materials. No two outfits were alike, demonstrating the originality and imagination of the participants.
"I liked the Ultimate Frisbee Club's outfit, and there was [another] one with bottle caps that was cool," said Kristina Blank, a junior environmental studies major and president of the Environmental Network, whose club entered five outfits in the shows, including a hula outfit, a skirt made out of beer cans, and a look made with over 500 plastic bags.
"We heard that the average person uses about 500 plastic bags a year, so this was a cool way to visually represent that," Blank said.
The event's organizers watched footage of the event afterwards to judge the winners. The first prize was $200, second was $150, and third place received $50.
"The purpose of [Passion for Eco-Fashion] is to promote recycling and reusing, and also to kick-off RecycleMania," said Emily Gibson, a junior communication major and the student representative in the communication and outreach subcommittee of the SA Environmental Affairs Department. "About 15 to 20 clubs are participating, which really shows [that] people are for sustainability."
RecycleMania, an eight-week tournament at over 630 colleges that promotes recycling and environmental awareness, is a chance for UB to display its pride in the environment, and Passion for Eco-Fashion was used as a way to draw attention to the contest. During the contest, participating schools report their recycling and trash data, and it is then ranked according to the most recyclables, the least amount of trash, and the highest recycling rate.
"One of the best ways to raise awareness to RecyleMania and recycling as a whole, would be to bring out recycled outfits onstage," said Matt Kopalek, a senior international business major and the department's materials communication representative. "[Organization began] about one month ago, and we are really pleased with how it turned out. We want to encourage people to be environmentally active in all aspects of their lives."
The Passion for Eco-Fashion event was just the first step on UB's journey to become a more environmentally friendly school. Look for upcoming events such as the Power Shift conference and a campus-to-campus bicycle ride in April.