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April 27, 2010 > A Trashy week at Sunol Glen

A Trashy week at Sunol Glen

By Alyson Whitaker

The lights dim. The music begins. The curtains draw open, and the first group of models strut onto the runway, showcasing their custom-made couture. The audience "oohs" and "aahs" over the styles as the models strike a pose to thunderous applause.

You won't find these styles on the racks of your favorite boutique. But open up your trash can and dig around a bit, and you're likely to find many of the materials used to create these one-of-a-kind fashions.

The first annual Sunol Glen "Trashion Show" was just one of the school's weeklong events celebrating "Earth Day."

Late, last fall, parent Kindra Mendall volunteered to chair an Earth Day celebration. She put out a call to other parents to serve on her committee, and was overwhelmed with the positive response. Initially planned as a one day event, it transmogrified into a week-long celebration, with school-wide enthusiasm and participation. The school was selected by the National Environmental Education Foundation-the national sponsor of Earth Week-to be included as a "success story" on the national website.

Each day of the week began with an intercom broadcast by Principal/Superintendant Molleen Barnes, reminding students to "Go Green!" and offering a "Green Tip of the Day." Students were encouraged to watch out for litter, use both sides of their paper, reduce lunchroom trash by bringing "no waste" lunches, and more. Tips were emailed out to all families, with additional suggestions for parents and teachers to help show a little more kindness to Mother Earth.

The highlight of the week was the "Trashion Show," coordinated by parent volunteer Heather Caruso-Maxey. She began working with students in early March, helping them to conceptualize their design, then assisting in gathering the materials and pulling them all together into a wearable item. Some of the fashions were created from redesigned clothing items found at a thrift store. Others took the "Trashion" theme to heart, literally fashioning their clothing out of trash. Duct tape, plastic grocery bags, rubber bands, used dryer sheets, empty juice pouches, used gift cards, and cardboard boxes were just some of the supplies used to create the designs.

Trophies were awarded to participants in two age groups, grades K-4 and 5-8, in three categories-Most Wearable, Most Creative, and Trashiest.

Other events at the school included a special evening performance by the students in kindergarten and first grade, and giving a history of Earth Day through song and script. Lunch waste was measured each day, in an effort to help students become more conscious about they're both eating, and throwing away each day. Over the course of the week, lunchroom waste dropped significantly as students separated out compost and recyclables from trash.

Friday afternoon wrapped up the week with an outdoor rotation through earth-friendly booths, both fun and educational. Students learned about worm composting, and were only mildly disgusted to see the worms hard at work. Baia Niccia Farms discussed how mint is cycled through their farm, benefitting the growth cycle of produce.

In the school garden, volunteers Beth Ann Bentley and Steph Serpa helped children see how everyday items like plastic clamshells can provide a mini greenhouse to vegetable starts. Sunol 4-H donated reusable water bottles to each student. The Sunol Girl Scout Troop used old socks to create toys for a local cat shelter. Through volunteer instructors and videos, students learned a little bit more about what happens when we throw something away.

In a day and age where nearly everything is disposable, we have become "Weapons of Massive Consumption." It's time for us to take a look at our consumption habits and reevaluate. Determining the areas in which we can reduce, reuse, or recycle on a daily basis can have a huge impact.

While we may not actually choose to wear our trash, we can all stand to dig a little deeper and find creative uses for what might otherwise end up in the dump. Showing a little more thought, respect, and kindness to the earth on which we live will benefit us all. And really, what's more stylish than that?

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