Posts Tagged ‘zero waste’

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


My friend Joe and his girlfriend moved to San Francisco last year.  At first, I didn’t understand how ANYONE could leave New York, but every now and again Joe sends an email that makes it all make sense.  For example, this morning he sent me some West Coast garbage links including this one to the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse.   It started as a supply-exchange set up by a couple of teachers and looks like it has blossomed into a community center with all kinds of reuse projects and resources, including a store  How cool is that?  Pardon me while I go mining the Depot links page for story ideas…thanks, Joe!

Trashtastic Tuesday with Miss Malaprop

Monday, July 9, 2007

malaprop.jpg This week Trashtastic Tuesday features Miss Malaprop, a pioneer of “Trashion”.

everydaytrash: What is a “Trashion street team” and how did you get involved?

Miss Malaprop:, an online marketplace for all things handmade, has all sorts of member organized “street teams” who try to help get the word out about Etsy and their own shops there.  The site is just 2 years old and very community oriented, so the street teams are a great way for members who live in certain regions or have similar interests to join up and spread the word about their work.

I believe the Trashion Street Team formed sometime during or shortly after Etsy sponsored an “upcycling” contest this past January.  The challenge was for users to create something beautiful and functional out of materials that otherwise would have been thrown away or recycled.  There were over a thousand entries, and everyone got really into the “upcycling” idea.  Some of us decided to create a street team devoted to this idea, terming our work “Trashion”.  As in, trash + fashion = Trashion.  Of course for our group that’s not just limited to recycled clothing and jewelry.  We have members who create just about anything you can think of using recycled & “upcycled” materials.

everydaytrash: What kind of politics and values go into your work?

Miss Malaprop: The more I get into the green movement and become more conscious of my environmental footprint, the more creative I become.  Lately every little thing I throw away makes me think, “how can I turn this into something functional and fun?”

I’ve always been interested in environmental issues (I tried to start an environmental club when I was in 4th grade), but lately I’ve really been trying to make some changes and reduce my impact as much as possible.

Since Hurricane Katrina, I’ve also been creating a lot more New Orleans and fleur-de-lis themed pieces, as a show of support for the area’s recovery and to help remind people elsewhere how far we still have to go.  (And that yes, it is worth saving and fighting for.)

everydaytrash: What’s your favorite piece you’ve reimagined from trash?

Miss Malaprop: I think it would have to be the outfit I made from recycled FEMA blue tarp for the Etsy upcycling contest [pictured above].  I won 3rd place in the contest because of it (out of more than a thousand entries, remember), and I got a lot of press and the chance to attend the Maker Faire in San Francisco because of it.  Plus I was just really pleased with the way it turned out.  I’d made an outfit from blue tarp before, for a local fundraiser, but I really liked this piece because it was made from discarded offical FEMA tarp and it helped bring some attention to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area.

Related links: – indie finds for your uncommon life

dismantled designs – original and reconstructed clothing & accessories

New Orleans Craft Mafia

Etsy Trashion

Reminder: Trunk Show Tonight in Brooklyn

Friday, June 29, 2007


Trashtastic Tuesday with Paul Gargagliano

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

trashwood2.jpg May-June is a horrifying season of waste on and near college campuses. Around this time of year, the over-satiated and less than imaginative undergraduates of our nation drag pounds upon pounds of perfectly good stuff to the curb simply because it won’t fit into their station wagons and storage lockers, or because it’s less of a hassle to just buy a new one next year.

Having grown up on a series of college campuses, this phenomneon particularly bums me out. Seeing piles of couches and text books, plastic storage bins and metal clothes hangers lining the streets of my town at the end of Spring Semester was a yearly reminder of the temporary and disposable view my quadranual roation of neighbors had for our community. This year, however, I am heartened. My friend Lydia lives in Philadelphia where she knows a guy named Paul Gargagliano. Paul Gargagliano, Lydia tells me, goes around on his bike salvaging the stuff tossed aside by the young and the wasteful. Hearing this, I had to know more. And so another Trashtastic Tuesday begins…

everydaytrash: How do you find the curbside items you reuse? Do you happen upon them, go out hunting, round up friends to help?

Paul Gargagliano: Here in West Philadelphia, come late May you have to try hard not to find great trash on the side of the road. At this special time, known as Penn Christmas to some, students at the University of Pennsylvania move away, and the school renovates building after building. Over the past three years UPenn students and the school itself have worked together to clothe and feed me, they have provided me with the materials to create shelter, given me artistic inspiration, made me wonder in awe at wealth accumulation and brought me many moments of unexpected joy. All up and down the streets of University City students create unweildy piles of bagged and unbagged goods. The university fills dumpsters with old furniture and leftover building materials. Most of the trash picking I do is with my friend Ben on Sunday and Monday nights, but I also go out alone. We almost exclusively travel by bicycyle. Ben is a little more selective than I am, which means that he tends to make it back to the house first because I’m so loaded down that I can barely pedal. I take a lot of things that I might never use because I can’t bear imagining the maw of a garbage truck crushing them up. Case in point, I recently brought home a baby monitor hoping I guess that somebody knew somebody who needed one. When we find wood we come home and get the car. Sometimes I’ll hide a larger item in an alley to come back for it with a vehicle.

everydaytrash: What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever found and salvaged?

Gargagliano: Rather here is a list of my favorite finds off the top of my head: a 1.5 liter orange Le Creuset sauce pan, a big red internal frame backpack that a friend is carrying around India right now, a delicious sheep’s milk cheese that I could never afford called Ewephoria, a massive maple lab table, a 36 cubby unit made out of oak ply that I put all my clothing in, a hefty Webster’s dictionary, over 1000 dollars worth of textbooks that a friend and I dutifully resold, 1 half bottle of Pimm’s liquor something I never would have tried otherwise.

everydaytrash: What sorts of things have you made out of the discarded items you salvage?

Gargagliano: Currently I am typing at an L shaped desk that Ben and I made out of laminated oak and and old maple lab table. Ben and I both made our beds, desks, and bedside tables out of salvaged wood.

everydaytrash: Do you think people become more or less wasteful as they become more educated?…as they age?

Gargagliano: I think that a person’s wastefulness is linked more directly to her relationship to consumer culture and the commodity fetish. If you believe that shopping is a valid passtime, then you will be forced to make room for the new things that you are constantly purchasing and bringing into your home. If you have no connection at all to the labor required to make a given object then you tend to invest much less in its maintenance and you toss it into the trash more readily. There are ways in which certain types of education about labor might bring out a consciousness of the commodity fetish and consumer culture, but an education at UPenn undergrad or at the school of dentistry, these things, have proven to create a rather wasteful class of people. Older people are often more jaded in general. They see through commercials that try to get them to spend their money here and there. And thus, they buy fewer things and throw away fewer things.


Trashtastic Tuesday: The Language of Trash

Monday, June 11, 2007

  This week on Trashtastic Tuesday, we take a moment to examine the word choice of trash talk.  In discussing our respective passions for the narrow yet highly bloggable subjects of chocolate and trash, my friend Emily Stone and I decided to dedicate a post each to language.  Below is a compilation of links to what the experts have to say about garbology, the concept of zero waste, sustainability and solid waste.  These are terms essential to the understanding of broader trash issues.  [Editor’s note:  In fact, if everydaytrash were a European blog, I would long ago have been kicked off the Internet for failing to define the key terms up front before marching on to present a solid argument in outline form.  Aplogies to any Europeans I may have confused in the past, consider this a new leaf.] 

Check out Chocolate in Context for a parellel glossery (with far more original reporting, I might add).  And while you’re over there, vote for Emily.  She’s <this> close to a free trip to California from some contest called “Grill Me.”

  • Wikipedia, almighty Internet resource, compiles the goods on garbology, the archeological study of people via sifting through what they throw away;
  • Gary Liss of the Grass Roots Recycling Network (GRRN) lays out the top resources on zero waste, the jihad againt excess;
  • Green fashion diva fiftyRx3 defines sustainability, the quest for lasting solutions to environmental problems;
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency redefines solid waste, the kind of trash the government collects.

Clip art from

Trashtastic Tuesday with Robin Worley

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

small-orange-mesh.jpg  I connected with designer Robin Worley, one of the founders of the trash to fashion movement in America, over email after she noticed some of my posts and I noticed her organizaiton’s Web site.  She kindly agreed to share the origin story of trash to fashion as subject #3 in our ongoing series of Trashtastic Tuesdays.

everydaytrash:  How did you become involved in the trash fashion world? 

Robin Worley:  It all began in Nevada City, Californiain 1983 with a woman named Susan Lamela, a.k.a. Polly Ethelina, and a show called “On the Cutting Edge”. It was a social science experiment. I modeled for Polly in the second show she did which took place in 1986 and featured the work of three designers, Polly E., Mr. Perception and Mary X. This was the humble beginnings of Haute Trash & eventually the Haute Trash Artist’s Collaborative, a Non-Profit Organization of which I am currently V.P.

everydaytrash:  What was the first show you took part in or organized? 

Worley:  I modeled in [On the Cutting Edge] and then was a designer for the first time in next show called Hot Trash 8-8-88 (it was on Aug. 8th, 1988) and then Trash Tech in 1989 and Haute Trash, Objet Trouvé Fashion in 1990.  With each show the number of designers increased…In 1988 I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, commuting back and forth to do the shows in California when I connected with Trash Artist Ira Ono and the beginnings of a Trash Art movement in the Hawaiian Islands. The first show I produced was a runway show of seven of my own pieces at the East Hawaii Cultural Center in Hilo for the very first Art of Trash Gala Opening in September 1991.


everydaytrash:  How has the community of designers evolved and expanded over the years? 

Worley:  Over the time that we have been at this we’ve seen a lot of evolution!  It was a popular theme in the “Techno-Era” that we started in, but now it really seems like an idea whose time has come. We didn’t really know anyone else who was doing what we do back then. Now we discover new trash fashion designers all over the world all the time thanks to the internet.  That is, or they find us. We have a website it’s www.hautetrash.orgThere is a competition in New Zealand [and others in Portland, Seattle and Ontario, Canada]…just by our experiences this past year I can say Trash Fashion is everywhere we look these days, the community of trash fashion designers is now nation wide. All these competitions and group shows attract new designers or designers working with trash as a new medium, so it’s only going to grow. 


everydaytrash:  Do runway shows of novelty trash outfits have an impact on the fashion industry or the environment? 

Worley:  I’d like to think so. Our fashion show seems to have quite an impact on everyone who sees it. So I hope the industry will take notice soon!  We make an impact on the people, and they make an impact on the industry and the environment.  I think this is especially true when we go into the schools and meet with the next generation. We learn as much as we share usually, if not more. The kids today are living in a whole different world than the computer-free one I grew up in. I recently taught Trash Fashion to a group of Fashion Design and Marketing students at an occupational high school near Seattle. We took a tour of the local recycling plant and then they all created beautiful and thoughtful pieces that were shown at a Fashion Show for the Washington D.E.C.A. marketing club convention which had about 3,800 kids in the audience. I could tell by the response that these students agreed with the idea of using green marketing as a tool for social change. As the emcee I gave examples in my intro like the GAP’s red clothing marketing campaign to raise money and awareness to the global AIDS crisis, or the Pink Ribbon Campaign against Breast Cancer. 

There’s a definite shift happening. The fashion industry is considering the environment now too. But whether or not we are of any influence, it’s great to see how much of the fashion magazines are filled with green thinking. What was once alternative is now turning mainstream. Green Marketing is the in thing. Safeway has its own line of Organics. Barney’s has a line of organic cottons. What the people buy is what really affects the industry. Pretty simple…Recycling is all good and well, but what about just never using all that packaging and disposable convenience stuff in the first place? In Europe manufacturers are held accountable for the amount of waste that will be generated by the packaging around their products. In America 94% of the materials extracted for use in manufacturing durable products become waste before the product is even manufactured. And then, 80% of what we manufacture is thrown away within six months of production…That’s embarrassing if nothing else. 


everydaytrash:  Who are some of your favorite trash designers? 

Worley:  Polly Ethelina of course. She had the vision. Elvira Mental Werks because of the detail they put into their designs, Prima Debris because of her “trash purist” approach to design, Redussa d’Trash, Racey Garbaj, Redeema Debris, Mr. Trashwell, Wayward Girls Productions, Eve and the House of Original Sin, Chacko, Ruby Reusable, the designers of Troupe de Trash….there are so many it’s hard to list them all.  Nancy Judd of Pulp Fashion is amazing. All the designers at the Junk to Funk Competition were quite excellent. The Waitakere competition is outrageous! John Galliano does some amazing stuff. I wish I had his budget. But then it wouldn’t be trash fashion if I bought materials.


Photos curtosey of Robin Worley.  The Orange Construction Fence Gown designed by Elvira Mental Werks and Modeled by Rayona Visqueen (Robin Worley); Fashion on a Budget (shower curtain, torn parachute and red caution tape) Modeled by Jeanne and designed by Rayona Visqueen; River Raft Rendevous (strapless Ball gown created from a destroyed 2 man river raft with inflatable baffle hem) designed and modeled by Rayona Visqueen; and New York Times Bags Cocktail Dress and Tuxedo with Blueprint paper pants Designed by Prima and Redeema Debris and modeled by Val and Redeema.

I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll green your home…

Friday, May 18, 2007

strawbaleprimer.jpg  Mark your calendars, the first episode of PBS’ new program Building Green airs June 5th. The show’s blog is up already and includes workshops on DIY greening, covering topics from fancy architectural design to, you know it, trash (or at least the quest to reduce it).  Viewers will follow along at home as host Kevin builds a house out of straw [insert big bad wolf crack here].

Photo from this handy site.

Troupe de Trash

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

troupedetrashweb.jpg  Out in California, the lovely ladies of Troupe de Trash are busy getting ready for their annual show, “Taking out the Trash“.  With our comrads in Waitakere taking a gap year, I was thrilled to learn of this trashtastic venture in zero waste. 

Speaking of trash to fashion, or just plain trashy fashion, if you noticed a gap in everydaytrash posting this week, forgive me.  I was attending/recovering from a wedding in Vegas so be warned that ridiculous bridesmaid dress reuse plans may resurface soon.  Proposals welcome.   

Plastic People

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

69.jpg  And speaking of trash people, fellow garblogger Ruby Re-Usable has been busy installing a collection of her own.  Using an industrial roll of plastic wrap discarded by a local food co-op, the artist began by wrapping friends in plastic, added some tape and ended up with the lifelike and transluscent figures on view this month all over Olympia, Washington.  A documentary of the installation project debuts locally tomorrow (I’ll let you know if I hear of other screenings). 

What I love about this project is that, just like the flip-flop whale in Kenya, it takes something cast aside and turns it into something fun and beautiful for the community to enjoy.  These whimsical plastic wrap people seem absolutely interactive—and without any bells, whistles, motors or gadgets. 

They remind me of another favorite installation—the Stoker Project’s tape babies.

“They don’t rot, they don’t break down and they float—forever.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

minkie.jpg Kenyan fishermen and the World Society for the Protection of Animals are building a giant whale sculpture out of the endless stream of discarded flip flops that get caught up in fishing nets. The partners hope the end product—pieced together with the help of local women who have long been recycling flip flops into local handicrafts to sell back to tourists—will serve as a massive pro-environment, anti-whaling symbol.

For updates and to sign a petition of your solidarity, check out Whale Watch.

Via the power combo of an everydaytrash tipster and the BBC online.

zero waste groovin’

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

clubtrash.jpg Tipster-in-chief Kimberly sent me this article today on a dance floor in the Netherlands that harnesses the power of those who grove upon it.

Its a nice day for a green wedding…

Sunday, February 11, 2007

11green_2_190.jpg The Times has a lovely piece in today’s Sunday Styles section about the growing trend of environmentally friendly weddings. It’s a topic I know my side bar buddies Ethical Weddings and Great Green Wedding keep in mind when posting. Of course the number one way I can think of the reduce your ceremony’s footprint (not to mention your and your parents’ energy output) is to not throw such elaborate parties. That said, I’ve been to one of those farm to table places upstate, where the article mentions the couple held their rehersal dinner–crisp weather, more kinds of carrots than you knew existed, pigs wandering about, compostable cutlery, picturesque carriage trails perfect for hikes and runs…I could imagine a fantastic feast served there.

Update: For even MORE on green weddings, check out this post of the same name  over at hippy shopper.

Literary Trash, a week of trash authors beginning with Elizabeth Royte

Monday, February 5, 2007

erauthor.jpg A friend in public radio tipped me off to Elizabeth Royte and her fantastic chronicle of trash, Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, this past summer after talking to Royte for a show about trash and the law. I bought the book the next day and later met Royte at the Brooklyn Book Fest, where she was reading from her newly released paperback edition. I introduced myself and asked if she’d be willing to be interviewed for everyday trash. “Sure,” she said, adding [something along the lines of], “but I read on your blog that you’re still reading my book, so wait to see if you like it.”

Outed as not yet having finished Garbage Land, but thrilled that a genuine trash reporter had not only heard of but read everyday trash, I filed away the idea of an interview until…author’s week! What better way to kick of a week of interviews than with the Garbage Lady herself?

everydaytrash: Now that you’ve finished your book, do you still research the subject of garbage? Any recent excursions/adventures?

Elizabeth Royte: I try to keep up with garbage news through various media (including yours) [editor’s note: Royte is an occasional and much appreciated tipster to everyday trash], and I go around talking on college campuses about consumption and waste. I was recently invited by a friendly engineer to tour his landfill in Anchorage, but my plane left too early for a visit. Since Garbage Land came out, I’ve written magazine stories about the Katrina cleanup, about corn-based plastics, and waste from pharmaceuticals and personal-care products in our waterways. Oh, and I recently stayed at a zero-waste hotel in Boulder – that was kind of neat. I can’t seem to get away from the topic!

everydaytrash: Your book focuses on the way New York deals with trash. What are some other cities whose creative waste solutions you admire?

Royte: I admire what San Francisco is doing with their zero waste initiative, particularly their composting program. Boulder signed a zero waste resolution last year and is investigating composting options, and now Seattle, which has an excellent curbside program, has started fining residents for putting anything recyclable into the regular trash. It shows they take this seriously. (New York City fines residents for recycling improperly, but it doesn’t seem to be that hard-nosed about it – perhaps recognizing that the public is still pretty confused about our recycling rules.)

everydaytrash: In your book, you use your own household waste as an example of the amount we throw away and what a struggle it can be to reduce that waste. Are you still hyper-sconscious of your own trash?

Royte: I’m still hyperconscious, but I’m not nearly as conscientious as I was when I was sorting and weighing my trash. I’m lazier about getting small pieces of paper – shopping lists, receipts, blow-in cards from magazines–into my paper recycling pile (which is ten steps away and outside my apartment door). But I’m still composting.

everydaytrash: From a bigger picture perspective, are there lobbying or legislative initiatives out there that people should look out for? Is garbage a voting issue or should it be?

Royte: Yes! Mayoral elections in New York have swung on garbage issues. People _should_ be aware of where their garbage is going and have some say in how it’s handled, how their tax dollars are spent. New York City spends over a billion dollars a year collecting and disposing of waste. And yes, all Americans should be pushing for legislation that requires manufacturers of electronic waste to take responsibility for their products’ end-of-life, to recycle this stuff responsibly. Computers are hazardous waste in a landfill. We should be pushing for bottle bills, for composting programs, and for bans that keep yard waste (leaves and grass clippings) out of landfills, where it generates leachate and methane. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.

everydaytrash: Has writing a book about trash earned you any strange nicknames?

Royte: The garbage girl. Or lady.


Next up on the Literary Trash lineup is Dominant Wave Theory, a series of photos depicting beach debris by British artist and surfer Andrew Hughes.

sea glass for sale

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

seaglass.jpg I discovered the lovely North American Sea Glass Association in this article today. It’s a collective of beachcombers selling sea glass jewelry and bulk sea glass all over the world. In fact, the West Coast Sea Glass Association even buys sea glass. Check out all the pretty colors on their handy rarity chart.

cause on a string

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

plastic.jpg Check out these bracelets featured on Great Green Goods, made in Ghana from recycled plastic. They’re right up there with the Ugandan paper beads made from old magazines on my list of favorite gifts-that-double-as-political-talking-pieces.

Which reminds me:

Last week I received another political bracelet, a string of Kenyan grass beads, as a party favor at a fancy gala. To make up for missing my birthday party, a friend rigged an invite for me as a “young leader” to this evening honoring dogooder causes. As a New Yorker and nonprofiteer, it’s not in me to turn down a free drink, let alone an open bar, so after work I threw on a party dress and caught a cab uptown to [an event venue I will not mention here for fear that my labor organizing friends might disown me].

The highlight, for me, was when someone announced that Russell Simmons was in attendance and the eighty-something woman to my right leaned over and asked her son if he was the one who got people moving. “No, that’s Richard,” replied the son.

I’ll spare you details on the speeches, except to share the bizarre and, I found, disturbing fact that the whole event was underwritten by a very large diamond company. Did I miss something, or now that Hollywood has condemned blood diamonds is it ok to fund nonprofit work via their sales?

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