Green Shanghai made a remarkable showcase of sustainable innovation as they successfully organized their first Qiantan Campus Trash Fashion Show. Featuring 26 talented designers and 30 stunning models, the event drew enthusiastic participation from faculty members, students, and visitors alike, who gathered to witness and revel in the extraordinary display of inventive designs crafted entirely from recycled materials.

Since 2017, Green Shanghai has been at the forefront of promoting environmental awareness through its annual Trash Fashion Show. The show serves as a unique platform to bring people together and impart crucial lessons on integrating sustainability into their daily lives. This innovative showcase not only educates attendees but also provides a stage for students to unveil their creativity and fashion design skills.

In 2022, amidst lingering COVID restrictions in Shanghai, Green Shanghai successfully hosted the Trash Fashion Show while dealing with limitations that prevented students from other universities participating in the event (as done in previous years). This year, with the easing of restrictions, Green Shanghai has expanded its reach, welcoming five designers from local universities beyond its campus to actively partake in this environmentally conscious and creatively inspiring affair.

Raquel Jimenez, Green Shanghai’s president, stated, “This year, our theme was growth; therefore students could interpret it anyway they wish. Green Shanghai’s team alongside Student Government began organizing the show starting in July; overall it took 5 months to plan! Our goal is to raise awareness of the NYU Shanghai community’s trash consumption, provide a creative outlet for students as well as to create a positive impact on student’s perception of how sustainability should be done.”

The event also featured insightful talks from two guest speakers. One speaker was Fred Zhang from DSC Roots & Shoots, Fred shared the organization’s purpose and perspective on sustainability. The other speaker was Xenia Sidorenka, the founder of a sustainable denim brand UseDem. Both speakers passionately delved into their experiences and perspectives on sustainability, emphasizing its crucial significance and urging the audience to incorporate these practices into their daily lives.

Green Shanghai E-Board, DSC Fred Zhang, and UseDem Xenia Sidorenka (Photo: Kelsey Wang)

In an impressive display of creativity, freshman Cici Shao dedicated 8 hours to conceptualize her design and an additional 2 hours perfecting its final touches. Drawing inspiration from Greek style, she utilized materials such as fabrics from the 4th-floor lab and pages from her high school sketchbooks, embodying the true essence of sustainability in her outfit.

Reflecting on her design process, Cici shared, “I initially aimed to craft a garment using my high school papers to encapsulate my memories. However, I found it too difficult constructing the entire dress with paper, so I decided to pivot and created butterflies from the pages of my sketchbooks, which I then incorporated into my design by making the papers into butterflies and attaching them to the dress. In China, there’s an old saying that memories or people, once faded, transform into butterflies and return.”

Describing the experience as a venture beyond her comfort zone, Cici expressed, “Participating in this activity pushed me to explore new horizons, and I felt a sense of stress during the design process. Yet, the excitement I felt while walking the runway was unparalleled.”

Cici Shao (Photo: University Communications)

Sophomore Ninj Tumurkhuyag dedicated a month to crafting her design, investing 5 hours per week in the weeks leading up to the showcase. Ninj reflected on her creation, “I utilized leftover velvet black material for the top hood, paired with another black chiffon fabric and gold thread for the skirt. The belt and necklace were crafted from soda can rings, enhanced with a touch of gold spray paint. My design drew inspiration from the renowned haute couture house, ‘Schiaparelli,’ The brand is known for its elegant yet stylish dresses.”

Photo: Ninj Tumurkhuyag

Navigating the initially overwhelming and challenging process, Ninj experimented with various techniques to bring her vision to life. Expressing her excitement, she highlighted the most thrilling aspects of the event, saying, “The most exciting part of the event was definitely the show day and the photoshoot I did with my model after the show. Although I’ve always had a passion for fashion, actually creating my own design was a new venture for me. The entire event, from start to finish, proved to be a valuable and rewarding experience.”

Sophomore Tina (Yuting) Song found the experience to be transformative. Delving into the details of Tina’s creative process, she shared, “My design was inspired by a keen observation of my daily waste habits, I aimed to repurpose various types of plastic to construct a visually layered yet elegantly simple dress. I utilized a diverse array of materials, including waimai bags, plastic bags, plastic film, air buffer plastic packaging, old cloth and plastic bottles.”

Tina dedicated a week to the meticulous task of gathering materials and refining her design concept. As the week progressed, her efforts intensified–nighttime design sessions stretched into the early hours of the morning, concluding around 3 a.m. to 4 a.m.. This commitment underscored her dedication to bringing forth a unique and environmentally conscious creation for the Trash Fashion Show.

Tina Song (Photo: Kelsey Wang)

Green Shanghai’s inaugural Trash Fashion Show at the new Qiantan Campus was a striking showcase, exemplifying the harmonious blend of creativity, sustainability, and community involvement.