YORK, Maine — Tunics from Target bags and boleros from brown paper bags were just a few of the fashion pieces on display at York Middle School’s “Trashion” show Thursday night.
The eighth grade students, inspired by the book “Tracking Trash,” turned recyclable goods like plastic bottles, bags and magazines into works of wearable and sustainable art.
What started as an English unit quickly turned interdisciplinary at the interest of the students. While learning about the impact of trash on the local and global water supply and the ocean, students were encouraged to bring in trash and turn it into small treasures.
“We were learning about how much trash ends up in the ocean, and started to think of other ways the trash could be used,” said eighth grader Cali McDonald.
“Students started collecting trash at school, or bringing it in from home. Teachers passed around lists of what types of trash students needed for their projects, and their classmates could bring it in,” added classmate Zoey Keenan.
Students turned the trash into birdhouses and mops, plant holders and picture frames, mobiles and light fixtures. Some art pieces were up for bid in a silent auction, with proceeds going toward a hoped-for greenhouse for the middle school.
“We’ve already applied for a York Education Foundation grant,” said YMS Principal David Williams. “We hope that through the grant and maybe some proceeds from tonight we’ll be able to put a greenhouse on-site. We want students to have a greater respect for their environment and understand the impact trash has on the local community.”
Williams said that multiple teachers already volunteered to maintain the greenhouse, should it come to fruition. And ultimately, the greenhouse could be used to grow some food that would be available in the YMS cafeteria.
“We want to teach the students about sustainable living,” Williams said.
To raise funds in the meantime, students sashayed down a makeshift runway in the gymnasium modeling everything from top hats to T-shirts made from empty bags of potato chips. Teachers in wearable art greeted parents and emceed the fashion show that was filled with laughs, lasers and lots of hope for a more environmentally responsible student body.
“After this lesson, I know I’ll definitely recycle more in the future,” said student Mae Hickey.
Williams said that while he doesn’t know how long the grant cycle will take, ideally the middle school will have a functioning greenhouse sometime next school year.