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Everything Old Is New Again with RecycleMania Art and Fashion Contest

Make a bustier out of an old sweatshirt…make a work of art out of a broken cell phone…maybe win a prize.

An UpCycled Art & Fashion Showcase will be held Thursday, March 23, 6:00 pm, in the Bordy Theater, as part of Emerson’s annual RecycleMania campaign, which began this week. RecycleMania, a nationwide campaign to increase recycling and promote sustainable waste habits, runs until April 1, and includes a number of activities across campus.

Contestants in the Art & Fashion Showcase can create their artwork, clothing item, or accessory out of just about anything—the only rules are no food, nothing dirty or gross, and nothing brand new.

“The idea is just promoting creative reuse of items that have already served their purpose,” said Amy Elvidge, Emerson’s sustainability coordinator.

First, second, and third place cash prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges consisting of faculty and staff, she said.

The UpCycled Art & Fashion Showcase was the brainchild of Alexandra Morris '20, a campus Eco-Rep and a “pretty crafty” person.

Since becoming an Eco-Rep, Morris said, she’s been thinking about how wasteful making art is—canvas and brushes come wrapped in plastic, everything is in packaging.

Emerson has held “upcycled” art shows in the past, said Morris, who resurrected the art show format and threw in fashion for those who like to wear their creations. The committee decided thrift store clothes would be allowed to be repurposed into new creations, along with non-clothing materials.

“The clothing industry is one of the biggest issues in terms of waste generation,” Morris said. “A lot of companies, whatever doesn’t sell they throw away instead of donating it. We really like to promote thrift stores.”

That said, “If you want to get creative and turn an old bed sheet into a dress, go for it,” she said.

Emerson’s recycling rate is currently at 20 percent (the recycling rate for Suffolk County, in which Boston is located, is 30 percent), Elvidge said. Since switching to single-stream recycling three years ago, that rate hasn’t really risen very much.

A recycling audit of offices and residence halls done in November was illuminating. The offices did a fairly good job of recycling what was recyclable and throwing away what was garbage, Elvidge said. But in the residence halls, recycling bins and garbage cans alike were half full of the wrong kind of waste.

“RecycleMania is going to prove to be a great opportunity to get the word out and change behavior,” she said.

Students, faculty, and staff are asked to Pledge to Recycle and be entered to win weekly prizes from local businesses and restaurants.

Other events include:

Divide in Concord screening and Q&A with director: Wednesday, February 8, 6:30 pm, Bright Family Screening Room

Office Recycling Competition: February 20–24

Weigh the Waste Event: Thursday, February 23, lunchtime, Dining Hall

Men’s Volleyball Recycling Halftime Premiere: Thursday, February 23, 7:00 pm, Bobbi Brown & Steven Plofker Gym

Residence Hall Competition: March 26–April 1

For more information about the UpCycled Art & Fashion Showcase, or any of the Recyclemania events, visit the Sustainable Emerson Facebook page or email

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