Mode a la garbage: Turning trash into fashion

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By Alexandra Hehlen

When I hear the term “recycled fashion,” I automatically think of hand-me-downs and thrift shop threads. And in a way, recycled fashion is just that.

In fact, according to The Council for Textile Recycling, about 2.5 billion pounds of fabric would be thrown away if it weren’t for consignment stores.

Fashion comes at a price — an environmental price that consumers often forget about when they eye a pair of stilettos or splurge on a designer bag.

In light of current environmental conditions, the definition of “recycled fashion” has expanded to include clothing that is actually made from materials that would otherwise be thrown into the garbage or recycled.

Inspired and creative designers across the globe are starting to use the materials they would normally throw away to create whimsical pieces of clothing that make a social and environmental statement.

The Second Annual Los Alamos Trash Fashion Contest will make exactly this statement at the Next Big Idea Festival on Sept. 14. The show will take place at noon at the roundabout by Pet Pangaea.

The contest is open to people of all ages, who may enter an eye-catching garment that is made of at least 75 percent recycled or reused materials.

Chamber Checks will be awarded to the top designs in the child, teen and adult age groups.
For registration forms, due on Sept. 11, visit the County Sustainability website at losalamosnm.us/getgreen and the Next Big Idea website at nextbigideala.com.

I will also enter the competition with my own recycled garment, which I have been creating for the past few months, but am keeping secret until the day of the contest.

I encourage everyone in the community to come watch the show and to witness the recycled outfits designed by some of the most creative minds in town.

I love making a statement with style — whether it’s strictly stylistic or more environmentally conscious.
Although we may not all walk around in plastic bags, aluminum cans or cardboard every day, the next time you buy a piece of clothing, think about where it came from.

Buy from an environmentally-conscious retailer or shop at a thrift store instead of purchasing a brand new piece created with little regard to the natural world around us.

Fashion is all about reusing past trends to create a new fad with an original twist. It’s time we start recycling more than just trends.

The material our clothing is made of should be part of the cycle, too.