Trash is Treasure

A few years ago, Gugu Zuma showed some bored kids in her community how to make wallets out of discarded tetrapak.

“They loved this and I thought why not make more things and have a Trashion Show?” she remembers. “I mentioned this to my friend and fellow Dargle Conservancy committee member, Nikki Brighton, and together we made it happen. The first show was not that well supported but after that everyone wanted to be part of it!  Some of them still use those wallets today and many make toys out of rubbish. I am so pleased because it stops the burning of rubbish.”

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Every year the creativity and committed effort of eco-conscious learners who participate  astonishes, but this year’s event (the fourth time) held in Howick on Saturday 9 June 2018 was truly inspiring.

r Zamahlubi Hadebe from Mpophomeni photo by Tania Kuhl

More than 200 learners arrived to showcase their creative use of waste in celebration of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day –

and to have as much fun as possible, because the best way to spread an environmental message is with laughter and infectious enthusiasm. For the learners from Enkelabantwana School in Boston it was the first time they had visited Howick or modelled on a runway. These things were already a treat, but they also went home with new attitudes to waste, determination to influence others and to make more craft from rubbish.

Lions River Primary - Amahle Nene, Londeka Buthelezi, Alwande Khumalo, Thato Hadebe, Spesihle Mhlongo
Amahle Nene, Londeka Buthelezi, Alwande Khumalo, Thato Hadebe and Spesihle Mhlongo   Lions River Primary School

Since the first Dargle Trashion Show, held in 2014, when a dozen children participated, the event has grown exponentially. This year, a partnership with the Water Explorer Programme meant schools from across KwaZulu-Natal were invited to astonished us with their trash-fashion.

r waiting in line

Misty Meadows School in Dargle encourages self-directed projects. Principal Cassie Janisch was delighted with the outfits the children made all on their own – inspired by princesses and pirates. Proud Kai Goodwin took home a prize for the best variety of waste material used in his costume and Jaydon Darroll was rewarded for his great effort.

Mackenzie Bolton and Nthabi Ziqubu of Misty Meadows
Mackenzie Bolton and Nthabi Ziqubu of Misty Meadows

Mjila School came all the way from Donnybrook. “We believe the Trashion Show fights poverty and unemployment. It develops craft skills, promotes critical thinking and maths skills,” commented the delighted teachers. “There are many things we can do with waste plastic – shoes, bags, dresses, hats and mats. This will help the rivers, because the plastics that fly into rivers affect the animals who live in that habitat.”

Yoliswa Manana from Muntuza
Yoliswa Manana from Muntuza

Blessed Luyanda School from Bulwer were impressed to see what other creative learners came up with and enjoyed learning more about recycling from the various stands in the garden.  Alondwe Nkweyama’s outfit was judged to be ‘on point’- a real fashionista and Sisanda Mzizi’s costume was pointed out for its attention to detail.

Zoe Duma of Blessed Luanda
Zoe Duma of Blessed Luanda

The Meander Chronicle’s Nerissa Card joined the team judging the very difficult Junior School Girls category. There were 108 entrants in this category! Sthembile Magwaza of Singakwenza, Tinks Fowler, Nomfundo Mnyeni and Lindiwe Phikwane did an incredible job choosing the 20 best creations from all that loveliness.

Abigail Neethling from Northdene in Durban
Abigail Neethling from Northdene in Durban

Jesse and Hannah Zunckel in their spectacular Swan Lake ballerina tutus were Nomfundo Mnyeni’s favourites “The girls really put waste to good use constructing beautiful, creative and wearable outfits – even with matching hair bands and ballet shoes. I adored the bubble wrap petticoats.”

Jesse and Hannah Zunckel
Jesse and Hannah Zunckel

Indhya Sheman’s mum drinks a lot of tea, which means there are lots of used teabags in her house.  She dried them out and sewed them together with metal and plastic to create a particularly unusual outfit.

Indhya Sherman
Indhya Sherman

Ziyanda Ndlela a teacher from Mpethapetha Primary, a deep rural school, was stunned. “Oh my word, what an amazing experience,” she exclaimed.  “It was really overwhelming to see what can be done with waste. My heart is deep into this, I will do so much to teach about saving the environment and be part of the movement of world changers. We are already thinking about next year’s outfits. I think we will organise a Trashion Show soon with neighbouring schools.”

Wandile Nkomo and Minenhle Buthlezi of Saint Chads
Wandile Nkomo and Minenhle Buthlezi of Saint Chads

Danielle Mouton of Oasis Prep looked fabulous in her folded paper finery as did the entourage from Kings School.

Danielle Mouton of Oasis
Danielle Mouton of Oasis

Jezelle John from Rustic Manor Primary in Durban thought it was an amazing day. “I got to see so many creative things and realised there are some really talented people out there. It was fantastic to learn that people sell products made from recycled materials and make a living from it. I will spread the message about recycling to my friends.” Imaan Alladin, in a dress made of chip packets was pleased she attended. “My dress was very uncomfortable, but I won a prize with my friends Leah Naidoo and Miah Pillay. We must recycle so that the plastics don’t end up in the stomachs of fish and cause their death.”

Imaan Alladin and Leah Naidoo Rustic Manor
Imaan Alladin and Leah Naidoo of Rustic Manor

The kids from Thembilihle Primary in Howick had been preparing for weeks (with a little help from Darryn Tucker of the MMEP).  Using unconventional materials, such as two litre plastic bottles and old electric fans they created eclectic and unusual costumes.  Darryn comments “They knew the sort of competition they would be facing from last year, so really stepped up their game. They had a fantastic time as well!” Onele Nondo won for her balloon ballgown and Zuziwe Sibiya for her good use of materials, and a fabulous handbag.

Zuziwe Sibiya from Thembilihle
Zuziwe Sibiya from Thembilihle

Other Junior Girl winners, who received prizes of iPhepha paper bead necklaces, Water Explorer hats, patchwork fabric pencil cases made by Meriel Mitchell, glass water bottles, banner pencil bags from E’Yako Green and skipping ropes made from plastic bags by Singakwenza, were: Angelina Pillay from Scottville Primary for Best Hat,

elina Pillay of Scottsville Primary
Angelina Pillay of Scottsville Primary

Nolwazi Bhebhe, also from Scottsville, for her magnificent umbrella made of bottle tops and her CD necklace; Elihle Dlamini from Inchanga Primary for her well-constructed dress;  Nosihle Ngcobo from Mphephetha for her lovely flowers cut from tissue boxes;

Nosihle Ngcobo
Nosihle Ngcobo

from Muntuza School in Estcourt,  Nokwanda Hlongwane won for her wedding dress, and Sphelele Mbele won for her traditional Makoti outfit.

Sphelele Mbele in Zulu traditional
Sphelele Mbele in traditional Zulu garb

Kyra Pearce from Northdene in Durban made an outfit that was very wearable, as was the dress Thobeka Ngcobo from Howick West Primary created. Nosipo and Nelly Mnikathi from Mpophomeni were delightful in their matching black and white dresses with beautiful skirts and necklaces.

Nosipho and Neli Mnikathi form Mpophomeni Enviro Club
Nosipho and Neli Mnikathi – Mpophomeni Enviro Club

Little Zama Dlamini of Masongo Primary stole the show in her South African Flag ensemble made mostly from pencil shavings!

Zama Dlamini from Masongo Primary
Zama Dlamini from Masongo Primary

Karen Zunckel judged the Junior Boys Category alongside Vusi Hoyi, Londiwe Xulu and Antoinette McInnes.   They awarded prizes for Rock Star (Sifundo Ndlovu of Nonqanda Primary), Fantasy ((Aphelele Mncwabe of Oasis Prep), Traditional Attire (Lindelwa Mtshali of Muntuza Primary), Smarty Pants (Fezokuhle Nzimande of Phumelelani Primary), Most Colourful (Lungelo Malinga of Phumelelani Primary), Best Shoes (Mpilwenhle Mthalane of Entelabantwana Primary), Best Accessories (Spesihle Zondi of Inchanga Primary). “This is a star-studded showstopper that gets better and better every year. We had such fun and will definitely be back next year,” said Karen, with Vusi Hoyi adding “The highlight was seeing the amount of effort the participants put into their outfits and the choice of materials they used. The hard part was deciding who should win!”

Judges Vusi Hoyi and Antoinette McInnes
Judges Vusi Hoyi and Antoinette McInnes

Themba Zakwe, who along with Lindokuhle Mshengu, Mandy Crooks and Jane Linley-Thomas, judged the High School Girls class, was pleasantly surprised by how creative the girls were with their designs and presentations. “Each girl brought their own flair, with their personalities coming through so clearly in their dresses. As incredible as this was, it made judging quite challenging because the bar was set so high. My personal favourite was Asanda Malinga who wore a blue and white ‘makoti’ inspired dress that was certainly runway ready. I had fun and the message about the importance of recycling and re-using items was reiterated throughout the day.”

Lindokuhle Mshengu was surprised at how difficult the task of judging was because the creations were so excellent. “My favourite things were watching learners on the catwalk and chatting to them about how they came up with their creations because reduce, re-use, recycle are issues close to my heart.”

Nokwanda Hlongwane from Muntuza
Nokwanda Hlongwane from Muntuza

Mordan Robertson impressed with her use of old fashion magazines to make her pleated evening dress.  Nosipho Mlambo who attends Jabula High School  in Lidgetton was ‘best dressed’- her accessories included bracelets, earrings and shoes.  Siphokazi Mkhize from Mpophomeni High School wore a traditional outfit, with a shawl that really impressed. Jane Linley Thomas thought that Amahle Sokhela’s high fashion look was something that Nicki Minaj the American-Trinidadian rapper would wear! Fellow Shea O’Connor learner, Nokwazi Madondo, used bubble wrap and newspaper to innovative effect. Larissa van Wyk from Grace College caught the judges eye with her attention to detail – she even had a zip to ensure her frock fitted perfectly. Ashlee Rock, also from Grace College, used discarded towing strap, milk bottles and denim bows to create her show stopper.

r handbag detail

In the grounds of the Howick Hall, the Pink team had been sharing the importance of re-usable and bio-degradable menstrual products with participants. Pink generously donated the prizes for the High School girls – pretty, locally made washable pads and a menstrual cup. These will go a long way to helping reduce the impact used menstrual products have on our rivers and environment. Lucky winners in this category also received a bar of local, handmade Rondavel soap. Larissa “ccccc “  Ashlee “ccc”

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Fashionista and DJ, Jane Linley-Thomas of East Coast Radio told the crowd that she had found the perfect jacket amongst all the ensembles to wear to the Durban July.  “Hey, why don’t some of you fabulous trashionistas come to the July?” she asked.

Jane Linley Thomas is entranced by the trashion
Jane Linley Thomas is entranced by the trashion

The audience was entranced.  “The children are so talented and their imagination knows no bounds. I cheered, clapped and cried and wished I could ululate!” enthused Yvonne Munk. “I really enjoyed the wonderful colours, the friendly people and the great organisation. The children were fabulous and brave.  It was a good to forget all about the problems and realise that nothing is trash – everything is useful,” said Wendy Mkwanasa. “The show was quite something – uplifting and inspiring,” added Penny Rees.

amantha Koen of Kings and Nhlakanipho Makena Nhlanhleni Primary
Samantha Koen of Kings and Nhlakanipho Makena of Nhlanhleni Primary

There can be little doubt that youngsters these days understand completely that things cannot stay the same if humanity is to have any chance of surviving on this planet.

They know that 2500l of water is used to make just one t-shirt and that 4kg of Co2 is generated in the process.  They know that clearing rainforest to grow food for cattle to make cheap leather shoes is a bad idea. They know that only 4% of waste in Africa is recycled.  They know that we are using far more of the Earth’s resources than it is possible to replenish.

r how much water shoes

So, what do they do? They gather garbage, dive into recycling bins and pick up sweet papers outside tuck shops to turn into fabulous fashion – otherwise known as trashion. In the process they influence their families, neighbours and friends to view waste differently. “I am sending a message that people must reuse trash to make something useful because my feelings about littering are sadness and disappointment. I am inspired seeing lots of others who favour using waste to be creative.”  Asanda Malinga told us in her couture gown.

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Clearly the Trashion Show was a spectacular success. Not only for the kids – there were plenty of adults who got into the spirit of things too!   For the first time we awarded prizes for adults.

Bongekile Ngcongo came all the way from Folweni, south of Durban. Bongekile is an active member of the Wise Wayz Water Care Programme working on clearing rivers and streams of waste. She gathers all the useful trash – including discarded jerseys – washes and unravels them and crochets the reclaimed wool into useful garments.  How gorgeous is this striped dress modelled by Gugu Shinga?

Bongekile Ngcongo and Gugu Shinga
Bongekile Ngcongo and Gugu Shinga

Kevin and Karen Zunckel won meals from Rocket Cafe for their outfits too, making great use of pet food bags. Njabulo Mwelase, Nuyiswa Nzimande and Samkelisiwe Ngcobo from Midlands Community College (MCC) strutted their stuff with style – all winning copies of Mnandi a Taste of Mpophomeni – donated by Mpophomeni Conservation Group.  “MCC was privileged to take part in the phenomenal Midlands Trashion Show today. We were blown away by the most amazing clothes made from waste materials. We learnt that the ladies from our ECD Class can not only make amazing outfits, but model them too! We shared our learning resources made from waste with so many eager minds. We have realised that there is no excuse, no matter how under resourced, for ECD centres and ECD practitioners, not to have a section in their classrooms for fantasy play, including dress up clothes.  I am planning to take this forward as one of our workshops with the ECD Practitioners.  I saw the most amazing hats and glasses! There should be no excuses! We met awesome Midlands NGO’s all working together to support education and the environment,” enthused Rebecca Wakeford, Director of MCC afterwards .

Trashionistas from Midlands Community College
Trashionistas from Midlands Community College

Adult category judge Nicole Stroebel (in a magnificent cat food packaging hat) declared Simangaliso Dlamini’s stylish outfit “utterly fabulous!” – and his moves on the dance floor thrilled everyone as well! Antonia Mkhabela looked as if she was about to attend a Royal Wedding in her elegant suit and hat.

Mark Liptrot, Sustainability Manager for Afripak, assists with judging each year and always wears stylish rubbish. This year he really impressed as even his belt was made of scrap material!  He received a gift voucher from Steampunk Coffee for his efforts.

Mark Liptrot
Mark Liptrot

Nonkanyiso Dladla from Shea O’Connor Combined School told us, “I have developed a love of art. Trashion has helped me to reveal the hidden talent I have for design.   Through my new passion I want people to know more about this amazing Earth we have, how saving our precious resources is important and that it is up to us individually to make the change.”

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Nelisa Ndlovu the Social Worker for Khazimula Children’s Home thought the show this year was fantastic because there were more entrants from other areas and she believes that it is good for children to participate. “I realize that when children are on the stage they feel ownership, confidence, and important for what they are doing. That is great.” Neli also loved seeing Jane Linley-Thomas “East Coast Radio is my favourite station.  I like her voice especially when she laughs!   She understands all types of people and sounds generous. It was my first time seeing her and that was awesome.”

Katie Robinson of the charming Lemonwood Cottages beside the mist-belt forest in the Dargle Nature Reserve offered to host Jane for the weekend. She brought along her family and friends and they had a wonderful time. Well, who doesn’t in Dargle?

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In the High School Boys class, Blessward Chataika won an E’Yako green school bag for his interesting hat, saying “Trashion Show you are a star because you are cleaning the world. In future I hope that almost the whole world will be following me to make beautiful things from trash. My message is – keep re-making clothes from waste and you will become a celebrity.”  Brynn Parr won for the most wearable and colourful outfit, Gareth Edwards for his clever use of a sack and Zolani Ntombela for the best use of discarded shopping bags.

Brynn Parr Grace College
Brynn Parr from Grace College

Antoinette McInnes, owner of E’Yako Green, who donated many of the prizes, told the audience “Waste can be a tremendous resource and has created all kinds of opportunities. It’s a precious alternative source for depleted natural resources. It can be recycled into products such as packaging and piping. E’Yako Green runs a profitable business upcycling waste PVC billboard into unique and creative promotional products such as conference bags, school bags, travel wallets and many more. Merging commercialism with sustainability is the new world order!”

r brochure hat

Garth Johnstone of The Meander Chronicle judged the hotly contested wire car competition, with Barry Downard.  The prizes of Solar Jars were donated by Pauline Holden of Dargle Conservancy.  Thabiso Ngcobo from Corrie Lynn Primary provided his own music and won a prize for being the loudest taxi!

wire car
Wire Car by Thabiso Ngcobo of Corrie Lynn School

Also from Corrie Lynn, Nqobani Mpangase had the best suspension. Zolani Ntombela made the best wheels and Siyamthando Nxumalo (both from Shea O‘Connor) won with his technical details. Garth said “These kids deserve a lot of credit for the ingenuity in making these vehicles, which actually work.”

Thembelani Mkulise of Corrie Lynn and his wire car
Thembelani Mkulise of Corrie Lynn and his wire car

Official Photographers Tania Kuhl and Ian Dickinson could hardly focus their lenses with all the excitement, but fortunately did manage to capture the gorgeous images used in this story.  “It was our first Trashion Show so we weren’t quite sure what to expect and then…BOOM! We were blown away by the level of creativity, the resourcefulness and the vibrant personalities that the stars of the show presented. Underneath the laughter and rubbish outfits was a strong environmental message that was appreciated by all – recycle and re-purpose. Think before you buy. A well-organized event that proved to be a fun Saturday outing for all ages. Our only regret is that we didn’t make outfits of our own so we are looking forward to next year’s show for an opportunity to try our hand at trashion-design.”

Thobeka Ngcobo from Mpophomeni
Thobeka Ngcobo from Mpophomeni

The Trashion Show has always been powered by volunteers – the generous Midlands community who make magic things happen.

Thank you Leanne Pelzer and Jenny Goddard for making kilos of popcorn and cutting up bags of oranges, Gugu Zuma, all the local celebrity judges, the DUCT Enviro Champs from Mpophomeni and Shiyabazali who assisted with setting up and winding down, Zandile Sikhakane, Zihle Msimango, Darryn Tucker and Gail Osborne from MMEP, Eidin Griffin the inimitable compere, Barry Downard for designing the advertising poster, Charlene Russell for building the Musical Wall from rubbish, Ntombenhle Mntambo for the vetkoek and salad, Bridget Ringdahl and Julia Colvin of Water Explorer for enthusing so many schools, and Nikki Brighton who put it all together.

Sanenhlanhla Vilakazi plays the musical wall
Sanenhlanhla Vilakazi plays the musical wall

Prizes valued at R9500.00 were donated by Pink Menstrual products, Rondavel Soap, Dargle Conservancy, Water Explorer SA, Mpophomeni Conservation Group, E’Yako Green, Singakwenza, Meriel Mitchell, Rocket Café and Steampunk Coffee. Thank you all so very much for your support. A big thank you to Lemonwood Cottages for generously hosting Jane and her entourage during the very busy Comrades weekend, when all accommodation was fully booked.

Hat by Tehila Pillay of Northdene Primary
Hat worn by Tehila Pillay of Northdene Primary

See all the photos here.

 

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