Sustainability from a ‘beautiful perspective’

As part of RecycleMania, the Office of Sustainability held the Trashion Show on Thursday.

Ven Stahl made a dress out of discarded materials for the Office of Sustainability’s Trashion Show. | ERIN BLEWETT TTN

Ven Stahl recently made a dress and matching handbag composed of painted place mats, cut-up aluminum cans and rolls of plastic, instead of the traditional flowy fabrics and expensive decorative ornaments.

“Everything, including the dress form it’s on, is trash-picked,” said Stahl, a senior fibers and material studies and art history major.

Stahl is used to working with recycled materials, he said.

“In a lot of my own work, I tend to use discarded or recycled material because that’s what is available to me,” he added. “I think that we waste so much and we need to be more conscious about that.”

Stahl created the dress for “Trashion Show,” the sustainability-themed fashion show hosted by the Office of Sustainability on Thursday in Alter Hall. The show featured wearable clothing made out of recycled materials, all of which were created by students in Body Art & Adornment, a class taught by adjunct assistant professor of crafts Tim Belknap. The recycled creations were then put on mannequins for display.

“We want to reduce, reuse and recycle,” said Temple’s Director of Sustainability, Kathleen Grady. “Not just recycle.”

Grady said the Trashion Show could help viewers understand materials they usually see as waste from a “beautiful perspective.”

Some of the clothing pieces utilized plastic bags, pages from books, old bed sheets and used denim.

The works featured will be judged by a panel of artists from RAIR, an artist-in-residency program based out of Philadelphia focused on bringing awareness to sustainability efforts through art and design.

The winner will receive a Mac computer from Temple’s Computer Recycling Center.

Temple’s Office of Sustainability organized the Trashion Show as the final installation of a series of RecycleMania, an international eight-week competition among universities geared toward reducing waste and increasing recycling. This is Temple’s eighth year participating in the sustainability initiative.

“We are constantly surrounded by litter in the city of Philadelphia, and we just kind of become immune to it,” Grady said. “We want to reclaim trash as a resource.”

Claire Pope, a junior social work major and a student worker in the Office of Sustainability, helped organize the Trashion Show and some other RecycleMania events, like a clothing swap and a box fort competition.

“Hopefully, we will reach people who don’t know about creative sustainability,” Pope said.

Winners of RecycleMania are selected based on the number of pounds of waste and recycling processed over the eight-week period. Grady is given the numbers from Temple’s recycling and trash vendors on a weekly basis.

“Our goal this year is to recycle 350,0000 pounds,” Grady said.

Despite its name, RecycleMania is focused on attracting attention to many other environmentally friendly habits besides recycling, like turning off lights and unplugging electronics that aren’t in use.

“So that’s part of what we’re doing,” Grady said. “Getting people to rethink their consumptive patterns and rethink what is trash.”

Erin Blewett can be reached at

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