Jumpsuits made out of a tent, a fancy dress made out of a hot air balloon… it’s simply madness! Or maybe it’s innovation. St. Kate’s fashion students have stepped up to the plate in a world where “going green” is being valued more and more. With the help of a program called TerraCycle, St. Kate’s students are flexing their creativity and caring for the earth all at once.
According to their website, TerraCycle is “a highly-awarded, international upcycling and recycling company that collects difficult-to-recycle packaging and products and repurposes the material into affordable, innovative products.” Materials like old toys, Capri Sun pouches, and material that isn’t fit for its original purpose are being saved from a trip to the landfill and instead finding their way into participating companies and institutions, including St. Kate’s, so that they can be made into new products.
“[Using TerraCycle] communicates a message of responsibility,” said Anupama Pasricha, a professor in the Fashion Merchandising/Apparel Design programs and Department Chair.
After using TerraCycle off and on before, St. Kate’s started using TerraCycle regularly in 2009. A TerraCycle is contacted via email and then they come and collect any unwanted materials as well as deliver more material to be used in projects in the fashion department. The fashion department does not get to choose what types of materials get delivered.
“The Fashion and Apparel program at [St. Kate’s] instills in our students the understanding that our actions affect the environment and everything in it. To that end, we embed sustainability readings and projects into our design and merchandising courses illustrating our goal of good social and environmental stewardship,” said Pasricha.
The projects that are included in the apparel design and fashion merchandising department are designed to be challenging and to promote creativity. Through the creation of group clothing lines, there is a lot of room for experimentation. Turning a tent into a wearable item is not simply done overnight.
Sustainable styles from St. Kate’s can be seen throughout the year. Garments are shown on the Sustainability Stage in two shows at the State Fair. Garments are also shown at some alumnae events and are quite popular during this time of year. Anyone on the St. Paul campus can go to Fontbonne on the second floor and see sustainable garments, including the winner of the Hot Air Balloon Dress: Sol Inspirations Scholarship Competition, Xee Vang, ‘15, whose product was selected as the audience favorite.
St. Kate’s and TerraCycle have a unique connection which has concurrently inspired many unique looks created by students as they make their way into the world as new leaders in fashion and in environmental stewardship.