People across the planet cleaned up beaches in celebration of World Oceans Day in early June, but there are no beaches in the Midlands.
The least we could do was prevent more plastic from entering our rivers, and ultimately oceans, by turning foraged finds into fabulous trash-fashion!
On the banks of the uMngeni River, the Howick Agricultural Hall exploded with colour and catcalls as 120 learners strutted their spectacular stuff. Everyone was astonished at their creativity and imagination – each outfit was unique and used a vast array of foraged materials – coke cans, feed bags, paper cups, onion sacks, discarded CDs, old newspapers and juice cartons.
Erica Brown, who has attended all the events, since the small beginnings at Corrie Lynn School in Dargle a few years ago, commented, “I thought the first one with just 15 kids was fantastic, but it gets bigger, better and more amazing each time. A sensational show!”
Part of the waste extravaganza was a musical wall built from rubbish. Cleverly constructed by Kings School teacher, Charlene Russell and friends, from discarded bicycle wheels, coffee cans, repurposed plastic pipes and cake tins. This was a great hit with the kids and kept them entertained as more and more taxis rolled up filled with creative and enthusiastic children.
There was a parade of wire cars with prizes awarded for the best delivery van, the best woman driver and the best wheels. The country kids took the top honours with Abahle Zuma from uBunye in Impendle being awarded best driver for his wire car, while Thabiso Ngcobo of Corrie Lynn took the prize for best steering. The award for the best Box Car went to Nhlakanipho Duma of Jabula Primary in Lidgetton.
Innovative technology lessons facilitated by the MMEP in local schools, use waste materials to teach this subject. Learners proudly showed off their 3D models of houses with water tanks, furniture, cars and model laptops.
Shea O’Connor Combined School from Nottingham Road stunned us with their inspired creations and took home many of the prizes. Siphesihle and Akhona Mchunu made great use of multiple types of waste to create their original outfits.
The teams of judges had a challenging task, but thoroughly enjoyed chatting to the learners about their creations and admiring the details up close.
Noluthando Mnguni looked splendid in her traditional isixolo (hat) made of waste card, while Mpo Chinowe’s sunglasses and earrings caught the judges eye. Asanda Malinga’s Nike branded outfit attracted a lot of attention as did Nonkanyiso Dladla’s bridal gown.
Grade 11 learner Nombulelo Ndabezitha designed many of the outfits and looked particularly stylish in discarded poly-propolene packaging with red bottle top accents. One simply never knows what treasures you will find at the recycling centre (or in the gutter).
From Misty Meadows School, Dineo Ziqubu created a froth from old newspapers for her ballerina skirt, Gina Rayner wore a clever coke can combo and Yaelah Sharpley got a special prize for her outfit as a character from the movie Frozen.
Zandile Sikhakhane, who accompanied learners from Impendle, says the were so surprised to see the ‘out of this world’ outfits created by other schools. On their way home, they started planning their 2018 creations! One parent commented afterwards that she thought waste was meant to burnt, but now she has changed her mind.
Thembilihle kids, who put a lot of effort into their costumes, had a great time despite feeling a little overwhelmed by the vibrant occasion. Siyabonga Nyawuza’s outfit with cardboard hat got a special mention and Zaziwe Sibaya’s ensemble was declared ‘Wow’!
Hannah Zunckel of Laddsworth delighted everyone with her pirate costume complete with cutlass made from an HTH bottle and cardboard.
To keep energy levels up there was fresh popcorn to snack on (in folded newspaper cups) and in-season oranges, while everyone mingled and admired the displays. Singakwenza showcased their trash toys and clever ideas for early childhood development tools using waste. iPhepha Beads displayed beautiful paper bead jewelry made from discarded calendars. A Grandmother from Bruntville, inspired by her grandson’s trashion creations last year, started her own business crocheting bags from waste plastic and brought along her wares to show off.
Children from Khazimula in Lidgetton entertained the crowd with energetic traditional dancing which encouraged everyone in the audience to get on their feet for a final twirl to Brenda Fassie’s hit song Vulindlela.
Nikki Brighton of Dargle Conservancy pointed out that every minute one big rubbish truck of plastic waste is dumped into our oceans – so there is a lot of plastic floating about, entangling wildlife, being eaten by mistake by fish and birds and breaking down to form an invisible toxic plastic soup. Scientists estimate that in 30 years’ time, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. “We are celebrating creativity today, by not using new materials, but by scavenging waste – keeping it out of our rivers and giving it a new life. Thank you everyone for caring about the planet we share with so many other creatures,” she said.
Thandolwethu Khanyile couldn’t wait to get home to tell her mom she was a Trashion Star. “When I am older, I will open a fashion shop with my own brand of clothing made of trash and encourage everyone to take care of the environment,” she said. Vice-principal of Shea O’Connor School and proud teacher of these eco-conscious kids, Antonia Mkhabela, added “I wish all schools would do trashion because this is where environmental education becomes real. It develops creativity, critical thinking and new skills.”
This year the Trashion Show was a collaboration between Dargle Conservancy, Mpophomeni Conservation Group and Midlands Meander Education Project. Upcycled, earth friendly prizes were sponsored by E’Yako Green, Singakwenza, Pink Menstrual Products, Meriel Mitchell and Mark Liptrot. Many thanks to everyone for contributing to the success of the day.