It was all in preparation for the ‘trashion’ parade at this year’s Youth Eco Summit, which saw students from schools around Australia hit the catwalk decked out in custom-crafted garbage garments.
Nepean creative arts head Prue Rowston says that just getting together the resources required for this project was a challenge.
“One of the things that has been really challenging yet rewarding is that we’ve had to manufacture fabrics out of the found, so we used waste from the school environment and also the community donated things...” Rowston says.
“For example, the plastic bags, as you know there’s been that change towards no longer [using] plastics, so we had a lot donated to then create knitting garments and wearables.”
With their materials in hand, students got to work creating clothes for the parade.
“What was really delightful was their combination of using traditional crafts, like crocheting, French knitting, but doing it out of strips of plastic or fusing straws to create a lined workable garment or fabric,” Rowston says.
“Whether it be pop riveting or sewing or knitting or crocheting, it was that innovation that brought these really to life.”
The project had an underlying theme of sustainability, with students working hard to save non-recyclable materials from becoming landfill.
“They are particularly interested in the concept of waste and packaging and as individuals what they can do, so from straw usage to the canvas bags, and we’ve got shields made out of coffee cups, and coffee cups can’t be recycled because they’re lined for liquid,” Rowston says.
“And so that message is almost like ‘take the refillable, take the drink bottle, drink without the straw, make your own canvas bag’, so there’s a real revolution happening in their understanding of what they can do as an individual to not produce lots of waste and lots of landfill.”
The students’ hard work saw them take out the Youth Eco Summit trophies for Best Trashion and Most Resourceful.
Rowston says that Nepean is always looking for cool ways to get students out of the classroom.
“One of the things that we’re really looking at as a creative arts team is the arts infiltrating the world beyond the school grounds ... the students really respond well to these living briefs, these living arts briefs that as a creative arts team we’re programming around.”
A broader push towards sustainability is underway at Nepean, with yellow recycling bins popping up around the school, accompanied by painted signs encouraging their use.
One sign, modelled on the famous ‘Uncle Sam’ US Army recruiting poster, reads “I want you to recycle, find a yellow bin.”
Other signs are based off the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’ poster, and the popular video game Fortnite.