From trash to treasure: Students model upcycled outfits at Trashion Show


Photo by Madeline Marriott for The Lafayette

Evan Pauser ’26 modeled an outfit created by fellow Eco Reps.

As music pulses through speakers in the atrium of the Farinon College Center, a model steps onto the makeshift runway. He struts down the aisle, covered head to toe in the season’s most in-demand product — a collection of crumpled-up, empty chip bags.

The model is Evan Pauser ‘26, who participated in the Office of Sustainability’s Trashion Show on April 7. Organized by the Eco Reps — a leadership program that encourages students to pilot sustainability initiatives — the event is meant to inspire students to upcycle and reduce waste by making clothes out of trash.

During last Friday’s event, student groups and organizations had the opportunity to design, create and model upcycled outfits for the chance to win several awards, including “Greenest Thumb,” “Craftiest Creator,” “Classiest Catwalk” and overall “Trashiest Outfit.”

“This event signifies the things you can do when you try to be sustainable,” James Boateng ‘25, an Eco Rep coordinator and the organizer of the Trashion Show, said of the event’s inspiration. “Yes, these are actual clothes, but it’s about what it stands for. It shows you can be both sustainable and creative.”

Katherine Pierre-Louis ’23 represented the Eco Reps. (Photo by Madeline Marriott ’24 for The Lafayette)

The first outfit, which represented the Office of Sustainability’s metrics team, was designed by climate action and circularity manager Melissa Adamson and modeled by intern Katherine Pierre-Louis ‘23. The design featured a top made of flattened cartons of oat and almond milk, straps made out of caution tape, and a skirt made of sliced newspaper advertisements and contractor bags.

Pierre-Louis later modeled another outfit made by Bernadette Russo ’24 to represent the Office of Sustainability interns.

Russo got inspiration from leftover items in the sustainability office.

“We had this recycled pen container that just never got used, and I thought, ‘Let’s see what we can make out of this,’” she explained. “So I made a little crop top, and it was fun — it’s fun what you can make with things that you wouldn’t expect you could do anything with.”

After a period of intense deliberation, the judges awarded the Trashiest Outfit award to the Office of Sustainability’s metrics team. The Lafayette, represented by Design Director Jen Parsons ’26 in a newspaper dress, won the “Craftiest Creator Award.” Pauser won “Classiest Catwalk” and “Master of Seams” on behalf of the Eco Reps.

For the trio of judges, it was the winning outfit’s embellishments that sealed the deal.

“It was the accessories for the metrics team that carried them across the finish line,” Dean of Students Brian Samble said.

Jen Parsons ’26 modeled a newspaper dress. (Photo by Madeline Marriott ’24 for The Lafayette)

“For the trashiest outfit, she used multiple materials. It fit beautifully and there was the accessory with the very cool egg carton bag,” Assistant Director of International Student Services Janine Block added. “That was just so creative.”

Accessories were also some of the most memorable aspects of the outfits for those observing the runway like Russo.

“The outfits are so fun — on one of them, there were shoes made out of plastic water bottles,” Russo said. “It’s just the little things that you don’t think of. Every single detail was so creative and fun.”

“The bottle slides were spur of the moment,” Pauser, who wore the bottle shoes as part of his Eco-Reps-sponsored ensemble, explained. “I was losing sleep at night trying to come up with some accessories, and then it hit me.”

Audience members and judges alike were inspired by the event to consider their own upcycling habits. Seeing the outfits caused Remy Oktay ’24, for example, to consider his own contributions to campus waste.

“I was just thinking of the various different foods that I ate and wondering if any of the trash that I produce may have made it into one of these outfits,” Oktay said.

Oktay hopes the event will inspire creativity in how members of the campus community use their trash.

The panel of judges was comprised of Assistant Director of International Student Services Janine Block, Dean of Students Brian Samble and Sustainability Outreach and Engagement Manager Sam Smith. (Photo by Madeline Marriott ’24 for The Lafayette)

“I wonder if we could just make this a common, maybe monthly occurrence,” he said. “Could we just constantly be on the prowl for interesting things in the trash and wear them and normalize that? Maybe it doesn’t have to be a full outfit, but just a little something.”

The models, too, felt accomplished after the event.

“It was amazing,” Pauser said. “I feel like I’m saving the world right now, one piece of trash at a time.”

Disclaimer: Culture Editor Bernadette Russo ’24 and Design Director Jen Parsons ’26 did not contribute writing or reporting.