The environmentally friendly mission of ‘Trashion’

April 18, 2014

By SARAH JOHNSON
CORRESPONDENT
The 4th Annual Hartford Trashion Fashion Show, in collaboration with Evergreen Design Co., will be held Saturday, April 19 at Hartford City Hall, 550 Main St., Hartford from 6 – 9 pm
This announcement begs the obvious question … What is Trashion?
The mission is simple. “Trashion Fashion is a community-driven event that inspires and creates awareness through recycled design. We will empower our audience to reduce, reuse and recycle clean waste while creating art and providing education.”
Trashion Fashion is a concept, an event, and a sustainable lifestyle dreamt up by Harwinton native Amy Merli four years ago.
“The original idea was to blend dance with trash,” Amy, a ballet dancer herself, explained. “I made newspaper skirts and did a photo shoot in the East Main Street factory in Forestville and used waste from my sister’s baby shower to do that whole show. The first official one was in Middletown.”
At that time, Southington resident Rachel DeCavage, of the recent business Sugarplum, USA got involved and had several outfits in the show. (Rachel has since transformed her business into a booming Etsy shop called Cinder & Salt.)
“The next year I had about 10 designers wanting to be involved,” Amy said. “The year after that, there were 20. We’re growing and changing that blend of what is the environmental element, what is the dance element, how much are kids involved?”
Trashion operates their non-profit mission underneath the umbrella of Evergreen Design Company (DeCavage’s own non-profit). EDC educates about sustainable design and are hosting the second floor of the show with educational booths on topics such as sponsor Whole Foods’ eco food systems, design, better sustainable choices, pollution and litter.   
“We are generally trying to inspire,” Amy said. “Our Trashion fashions aren’t necessarily practical for the street but they help rethink trash. The average person will leave feeling empowered to go home and think I saw something made of trash that helps me rethink what I do in life. It brings knowledge of what’s happening with things like environmental cleanups and companies selling things that help fair trade and labor in the rainforests.”
Enthusiasm from sponsors and volunteers was not lacking for this year’s Trashion show. The buzz growing around the event and its connections and collaborations is contagious. “From sponsor to volunteers, all our partners are very excited about it.” Amy said. “The people that come in are very into grassroots marketing, supporting students, and supporting a recycling process. I personally contacted anyone eco-friendly or in the arts and asked how can we work together? I really like that people are ready and willing to work with us.”
From the beginning Amy knew she wanted the proceeds to go to green education for kids. “My friend told me I had to meet Kim at the Sustainable Farm School – I like how they work with the kids because growing up, school wasn’t easy for me. There’s something really therapeutic for me to start a scholarship program in a cool alternative school for kids who might not have this opportunity. One student told me how much it’s changed his life.”
SFS is an independent school for children ages three to 18. They use holistic curriculum to tie the mind body spirit in a way that connects children to themselves, each other and the earth. Academic classes in math, science, writing grammar and history are also normal parts of the education system at SFS.  You can visit sustainablefarmschool.com for full list of past and present courses.
Founder and Director Kimberly Gill and her staff aim to constantly create a meaningful experience for the children. While they are looking for a property for a permanent urban location, the school will maintain satellite campuses for farming in different settings.
To see the show’s vision statement, ticket information for this weekend’s event and more, visit www.amymerli.com/trashion

Some words from Trashion’s partners:

This is my third year involved. Trashion and SFS are similar in that our values and missions are very comparable. The reason I started the school was to bring awareness to our local community members about the impact they can have locally and globally… on other people and the earth, We have a lot of potential to bring restoration and healing and beauty to this world and it’s what the show really represents.
Trashion gives youth a really beautiful visual of how simple it is to incorporate little ways of recycling. It also on a grander scheme is to get them involved in the show to take it to a new level. They can create out of things they have lying around the house. Gets them thinking creatively because of the educational opportunities at the show.
—Kimberly Gill: Founder and Director @ Sustainable Farm School

Evergreen’s mission is to educate and promote the use of sustainable design so that we can all have a lesser carbon footprint on the planet. Trashion is a really fun way to enlighten people about reuse. Evergreen’s role has always been to educate people while they’re at the show. They need to see how they can make a change, not just hear about it.
We’ll not only have information about different topics (for example paper towel use, ocean debris, natural beauty) but we’ll also have suggestions as to how people can actually make a difference. Each booth also has an interactive element- whether it’s making your own beauty product, getting instructions on kids arts and crafts projects or shopping from a local designer. We’re really aiming to engage the audience this year in ways we haven’t before.
—Rachel DeCavage – Founder, Evergreen Design Co.

We are so excited to be involved with the Trashion Fashion show …. Whole Foods Market truly believes in sustainability and working to support the environment and environmental causes.
It’s so important to raise awareness and by hosting a fun and exciting event around sustainability and the environment really brings attention to the issues and opportunities.
Whole Foods focuses on a sustainable seafood program, a GAP rated program for the meat department, compost, recycle, offer organic products and support the local community initiatives around sustainability and the environment whenever possible. These are just a few things we are doing!
—Amy Calandruccio – Whole Foods

Students at the Sustainable Farm School create trashion fashion.

Students at the Sustainable Farm School create trashion fashion.

Trashion Fashion founder Amy Merli, left; Jennifer Krewalk, who is handling the logistics for Saturday’s Trashion Fashion show; and Rachel DeCavage of Evergreen Design Co., which is hosting the educational booths at the event in Hartford City Hall.

Trashion Fashion founder Amy Merli, left; Jennifer Krewalk, who is handling the logistics for Saturday’s Trashion Fashion show; and Rachel DeCavage of Evergreen Design Co., which is hosting the educational booths at the event in Hartford City Hall.

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