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Recycled fashion is haute

Forget New York Fashion Week, North Tillamook County’s got swag

Published on September 21, 2017 10:36AM

By Rebecca Stone

for the TODAY

They say that one person’s trash is another’s treasure. That expression couldn’t be truer than it is at CARTM (Community Action Recycling Team of Manzanita), a nonprofit recycling center, which serves North Tillamook County. The center is gearing up for its annual Trashion Show, an event that showcases the last word in trash attire, featuring garments constructed out of materials from the center’s recycling bins. The result is some smokin’ hot couture, designed out of everything from clothes hangers, bubble wrap and Solo cups to newspaper, toilet paper rolls and roofing materials.

This year’s popular trashion-forward affair, slated for October 7 at the North County Recreation District Theater, in Nehalem, will feature 30 designer/models. Each will burn up the catwalk with swoon-worthy creations starting at 7 pm, following a 6:30 pm pre-show featuring a surprise local entertainer. After the trashionistas have strutted their stuff, the fun will move to the gym upstairs for the Upcycle Party, with dance music supplied by DJs AfTim Rhythm, tasty treats from the Bleu Eyed Baker, and assorted beverages, including beer, wine and nonalcoholic drinks. During the evening, raffle tickets will be sold for a few select items from CARTM’s The Refindery store, and attendees will have the opportunity to see all of the evening’s trashions — as well as some from previous years — close up.

Now in its sixth year as a standalone event, the Trashion Show/Upcycle Party began as part of the organization’s annual TrashBash, but ended up with a life of its own.

“Volunteers so enjoyed dressing up with recycled/upcycled materials at the TrashBash, that they continued it as its own event,” CARTM Executive Director Karen Reddick Yurka tells Oregon Coast Today. “Most make their own outfits, however, we have attracted very good professional costume designers who are making outfits as well.”

Reddick Yurka, who started as a volunteer with CARTM in 2006, became executive director in 2014. She has seen her share of Trashion Shows. When asked about some of her all-time favorite getups, she ticks off a list that includes the ‘Statue of Liberty’ made from peeled rubber garden hoses; a glowing ‘Jellyfish;’ an evening gown from a 1960s Christian Dior pattern, using black bubble wrap; and an ‘Elvis’ outfit made with bottle caps, vinyl records, with a cassette-and-license-plate belt.

As much fun as it is, it’s all done for a seriously good cause. CARTM is on a mission to create a zero waste community, through creative reuse of materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Located on what was once an open burning dump site, the Manzanita-based venue, developed with support from Tillamook County, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, has evolved from a 1990s volunteer idea about creative waste management, into an efficient recycling operation.

Not only does CARTM promote sustainable living by providing a place where the eco-aware can drop off unneeded materials, it also offers a store in which visitors can find unique treasures. In fact, so popular is the recycling center, which just passed its 20th anniversary, that this summer it actually ran out of room due to all the “donations,” and had to close briefly to regroup.

“We are really proud of the work we have done to reduce the amounts sent to the landfill,” Reddick Yurka said. “In 2016 alone, our community recycled 1,340 tons, a 14% increase over the previous year. That’s over 2.6 million pounds.”

In fact, she notes that the center’s rate of recycling to total waste is consistently between 55% and 65% — while the national average is 34.3%.

“We make an effort to recycle as many materials as we can, Reddick Yurka said.

“Even if it costs us a bit, because it retains the intrinsic value of the materials, and provides significant energy savings when compared to new resource extraction and processing.” 

But CARTM is also known in the community for supporting creative expression through material reuse, which can be seen in the Trashion Show and annual spring Trash Art Show fundraising events. According to Reddick Yurka, funds raised help to offset the cost of recycling items CARTM collects that can’t be sold for enough to cover costs.

“But,” she said, “we continue to recycle these items because there are few other options for them.”     

And that’s where trashion comes in. New York Fashion Week is all well and good, but if your tastes run more toward the latest look in bubble wrap, then CARTM’s Trashion Show is where it’s at.

If you go:

The CARTM Trashion Show and Upcycle Party will take place on October 7, starting at 6:30 pm, at the North County Recreation District Theater, 36155 9th Street, Nehalem, OR. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door — if available. The show usually sells all 195 seats early. Tickets are available in The Refindery at CARTM, 34995 Necarney City Road, Manzanita, OR, Thursday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, and through CARTM at info@cartm.org.

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