Blog: Trash to Treasure to Making Amends (2020-2021 Student Reflection Series)

In the photo: Trash to Treasure student leaders, Diego and Abbey, working in the project's storage space.

Blog post by Parker Lynas, 2021-2022 Trash to Treasure Project Co-Lead with the Campus Environmental Center. Parker is a rising third-year Government & Sustainability Studies double-major.

Trash to Treasure is a project dependent on the community, and during the pandemic we all experienced a change to that community like no other. All across campus, organizations and projects moved online in a moment's notice or had the summer to devise how they were going to approach an entirely different college experience. Trash to Treasure, however, is normally a program of circulation, reusing what isn't wanted and bringing it back to the community. Our thrift sales and donation drives connect the community physically and mentally. When approaching social distancing, contact tracing, and general university health and safety we had to make these considerations and lean into promoting our other initiatives. It was ultimately decided that we would forgo the sales for the year and evaluate the donation drive later in the school year. Now looking back, the tough decisions we made to protect the community actually helped us find new outlets for promoting responsible fashion. 

This year's co-leads, Diego Allison and Abbey Lehr, developed Making Amends from the ground up and created a socially distant, yet hands-on, approach to customizing your clothes. We chose to build off of Bachelor of Fine Arts Design student Claren Moyer’s project, Generated, in which clothes were digitally compiled from fast fashion retailers. Rather than collecting imagery from online, Making Amends generates design inspiration from the community donations Trash to Treasure receives each year. 

Making Amends has been both a success and an immense challenge. Creating an interactive  experience nearly entirely online poses the majority of that challenge. Through team input the ideas became increasingly fleshed out and in what seems now like no time we were looking at logos, instructions, deliverable packages, and social media material. We delivered prototype kits to team members and filmed our attempts at DIY upcycling. With some experience under all our belts, the team is now working to develop the next steps for Making Amends in the same online environment. Despite the setbacks of not being able to meet one another in-person, our frequent discussions and close communications made it as close to a normal year as possible. 

This inspiration was just part of the work being done during the pandemic. I was a newcomer to the Trash to Treasure team during the fall 2020 semester and joined to help research and write content concerning how the world was turning trash into treasure. My partner and I worked with the team in weekly meetings to discuss and revise our blog posts. Our design team worked tireless hours to produce the new imagery that accompanies such works and adorns our Making Amends website. Our communications team worked to make sure our social media pages reflected the work being done behind the scenes on Making Amends. I am glad I was able to be part of the making of Making Amends. Looking forward, I am excited to see how our donation drives and thrift sales can better support the Making Amends initiative.