Old paper cups, bubble wrap, cardboard, plastic bags, and packing peanuts appeared in all their recycled glory at the Trashion Show, the annual waste-couture extravaganza that shows Bates students at their creative and sustainable best.

Theophil Syslo/Bates College

Students designed and modeled outfits made of trash and recyclables for the Nov. 15 show, held in the Gray Athletic Building after the Harvest Dinner. Presented by the EcoReps, Bates’ student sustainability leaders, the Trashion Show puts waste — something normally seen as unsightly and gross — front and center.

The Best Overall Sustainable Garment award went to designer Sara Hollenberg ’19 of Stamford, Conn., who created a “memorial for the paper cup days of Commons,” the audience was told (paper cups were eliminated in favor of reusable mugs last year). Modeled by Sukanya Shukla ’20 of Gwalior, India, the dress, made with old twine, tarp, and last summer’s tomato cages, featured the out-of-fashion paper cups cut into flowers. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

“Waste is the dirty part of sustainability,” said Sarah Sachs ’18, who along with Olivia LaMarche ’20 made a dress out of water bottles and pizza boxes they found in the trash.

“It’s not something that people want to talk about, so if you’re able to approach it in a humorous way, it shows people how big of an issue this is on campus and in the wider world.”

Designers Helen Carr ’21 of Tarrytown, N.Y.,  and Essie Martin ’21 of Newcastle, Maine, who is also the model, received the award for Most Practical outfit for their dress made of College Store receipts. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

In other words, she said, “It’s to get people to laugh but also to say, ‘Wow, that dress had a lot of pizza boxes on it. Maybe I should take away less pizza.‘”

The sustainability showcase, hosted by Dylan Thombs ’18 of Monmouth, Maine, and Matt Reback ’18 of Potomac, Md., was also a competition, with staff and alumni judges in place to pick the very best in haute trash.

The Eco-Justice House went all in for the Trashtronaut, a spacesuit made of cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, and all manner of cans and jugs. Modeled by Eden Rickolt ’20 of Landenberg, Pa., the out-of-this-world getup won Most Creative. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Other outfits got their just recognition, too.

An honorable mention, chosen by Dean of Students Josh McIntosh, went to Sarah Sachs ’18 of Tacoma, Wash., and Olivia LaMarche ’20 of Lynnfield, Mass. Modeled by Domi Frideger ’21 of Durango, Colo., the outfit lost a few water bottles on the runway, offered an important reminder: Food and liquids don’t go with other recyclables. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)