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Recycling the Laundry?
UD students are famous for it—but not in the way you might think.
When is a blue dress green? When it’s environmentally friendly. Eco-fashion involves the use of fair labor practices, sustainable textiles and repurposed materials. What if the garment itself could be repurposed?
That design theory won University of Delaware students a $10,000 grant in the first phase of the Environmental Protection Agency’s national P3 competition. The contest challenges college students to design products that improve the environment and human life. And what’s life without fashion?
It began in the fall of 2008 as a class assignment from Dr. Huantian Cao, associate professor in UD’s fashion and apparel studies program. Rita Chang, Heather Starner, Jennifer McCord, Jenna Shaw and Grace Manalo turned the P3 contest into an eco-friendly Project Runway challenge. The result? A dress that, through zippers and snaps, transforms into skirts, shirts and capes.
“Our goal was to create one garment for multiple purposes,” McCord said. “It’s called design for adaptability, and it reduces waste, consumption and the use of natural resources.”
The students displayed their creations—one blue, one yellow—at the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, D.C., in April. What did the women wear to the event?
“UD sweatshirts,” McCord says. “We wanted to look like a team, even though the sweatshirts are gray and frumpy.”
Maybe the women will redesign them. —Melissa Jacobs
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