Turning Trash into Fashion 2

The Creative Lab is shining a light on the issue of sustainability in the fashion industry.

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries on our planet, something Boulder Lifestyle looked at in our September 2017 issue, and Boulder County teens shine a light on the issue every year at the Creative Lab’s Recycled Runway show.

Now in its ninth year, the Recycled Runway features students from grades 6-12 strutting down the runway in designs they made themselves out of items that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill.

Libby Alexander, who has been involved with Recycled Runway since the very beginning says that the show ties together fashion and sustainability, and teaches the kids participating and attending about both.

The designers create their outfits themselves, sometimes collecting trash for months leading up to the event.

“They’re all using things that are part of their lives, they’re inspired by their lives,” says Alexander. “So when they’re up on stage telling their stories it’s meaningful.”

Two mentors help the girls along their journey. Tanja Leonard, who originally got involved with Recycled Runway when her youngest daughter was a participant in Recycled Runway 3, and Rachel Lubanowski, who holds a B.F.A. in Fashion Design.

Even with the mentors, there’s no hand-holding in the six-weeks that the participants have to create their designs, even though many have never had formal training in sewing design. Alexander says that every year she is impressed by the new designs and unexpected materials being shown on the runway.

“They’re really looking further than just a plastic bag, or the obvious choice,” Alexander explains. “In the past, this has been everything from Nespresso pods to bike rims.”

Rosalind Wiseman, the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees (the source material for Mean Girls!), will be returning as MC this year, and tickets are sure to sell out quickly so get them while you can!

Proceeds from the show will go to Blue Sky Bridge, a local nonprofit that focuses on child and family advocacy, helping child victims, and offering crisis support for non-offended family members.

Meet the Designers

Kate Zacharaias

16 years old

Boulder High School

Materials used: old running shoes, shoelaces, post-race warming blankets, and weed barrier

What was the inspiration for your design? 

I was inspired to use a material with which I am very familiar because I have grown up in a running family. Many people do not realize the amount of waste running shoes produce. The average runner goes through 2 pairs of running shoes a year, and roughly 300 million pairs are thrown away a year in total.


Emmy Croasdale

12 years old

Summit Middle School

Materials used: can tops, weed blocker, roofing liner

Are you nervous about the show?

I have been to the Recycled Runway show every year waiting till I was old enough to get in. I am nervous for the show, but at the same time, I’m excited. I have wanted to do this for so long, and now I finally have the opportunity, and I’m going for it!


Marist Wrenn

14 years old

Centennial Middle School

Materials used: broken Christmas lights, physical therapy bands, other thick plastic-based materials

Why did you want to do the Recycled 
Runway show?

I want to do this show because I want to see what I could do with things that would have just been thrown away. I want to show people that we can be sustainable if we just put our minds to it.