"Are you moving?" one of our staffers asked, guessing the second most typical reason someone would be looking for old copies of our paper en masse.
"No, I'm making a dress out of newspaper. It's going to be awesome," she said as she left the building.
We were confused, but only until a few days later when we received word about the second-annual Rubbish Renewed Eco Fashion Show, a benefit for the Rimrock Expeditionary Alternative Learning Middle School (REALMS), taking place on Thursday, December 8 at the Century Center. This show, which got off to a successful start last year, encourages the community to create fashionable outfits from used items. Newspaper certainly qualifies as a used item, and falls perfectly into the theme of Rubbish Renewed. Suddenly, her statement made a lot more sense.
The idea for this fashion show is twofold, says REALMS Program Coordinator Amy Anderson, who is organizing the event with fellow school employee Karen Holm. First off, the object is to remind the public that things they might see as trash could find a second life in another use and to reinforce the virtue of living sustainably as a whole. But on the other hand, this is truly a fashion show and while some of the items are more art pieces than clothing, much of what you see coming down the runway are practical pieces of apparel that, although made out of used men's ties, for example, are certainly haute fashion.
"People think it's going to be trash and low quality, but we actually have two categories. There's some things that are made from trash, but the caliber of the runway [outfits] is really well done," says Anderson, who goes on to joke that part of the event comes from her own fascination with both eco-friendly philosophy and her passion for Project Runway.
Building off the popularity of last year's inaugural event, the Rubish Renewed crew didn't have to push too hard to find submissions to this year's show. As of early this week, more than 50 different pieces had been submitted, including pieces from Allison Murphy of Utlitu fame and Sara Weiner, who's best known for her Sara Bela upcycled handbags.
Anderson says the collection varies in style and materials, including a corset made from melted vinyl 45s, a trench coat constructed from men's button-down shirts and a skirt made from plastic construction materials, just to name a few. And the REALMS students have also gotten into the fashion, with one student creating a dress out of the used cat food bags she'd been accumulating over the past year.
In the past, REALMS' own Holm used old cassette tapes to knit a dress. She also used Obama campaign signs to construct a dress to the size of the first lady. And who knows, maybe they'll get it in her hands someday, Anderson says.
The point of the event, again, is to instill a sense of sustainable consciousness in the community, while - of course - also having some fun.
"What do you do with these old things we don't use? This definitely inspires the creative outlet in so many people and appeals to the sustainability-conscious person," says Anderson.
In addition to the two fashion shows (an all-aged show at 6 p.m. and a 21-and-over event beginning at 8 p.m.), the night also features a marketplace with vendors selling stylish and eco-mindful items in addition to both a live and silent auction. Not all the pieces on display will be up for bidding, but there's a fine array to choose from. There's also a chance to get involved in the styling during the First Friday art walk at the TBD Loft where you can participate in creating a "community garment."
Organizers are also hoping to get attendees into the spirit by encouraging everyone to wear rubbish-renewed-style clothing to the fashion show. So if you've got a bunch of old Sources laying around, why not give it a try? Because if you do wear a recycled item or something made from trash, you'll receive a free drink ticket. That's right - wear trash, get a free drink. Easy.
While the environment (and raising money for the school) is at the forefront of this event, Anderson is quick to remind that this is also a chance to see a well-produced fashion show, which is something we don't see a ton of around here. But if you walk away with a different perspective on your trash and used items, that's OK, too.
"We hope that it inspires people and they'll walk away more conscious about the way they're living," says Anderson.
Rubbish Renewed Eco Fashion Show
6pm (all ages) and 8pm (21 and up) Thursday, December 8. Century Center Ballroom, 70 SW Century Dr. $10/adults, $6/children. More info at rubishrenewed.com.