By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Ever heard of Trashion? As you can probably imagine, it’s the marriage of fashion with trash. The ultimate in upcycling, you might say! There are plenty of examples: think of the styles created by drinks tabs by Bottletop fashion, or the bags fashioned from old fire hoses by Elvis and Kresse, for example.
More recently, Linda Thomas, a designer specialized in luxury upcycled clothing, has created the Wave of Waste dress to denounce how polystyrene bodyboards (also known as ‘snappers’) are dumped on beaches, harming marine life.
“I was shocked by the image from 2016 showing a huge wall of waste boards and the enormity of this problem, she says. “I wanted to create something eye-catching to highlight the problem. I understand the issue, as I bought one of these ‘snappers’ for my son years ago not realising what they are like, it was so rubbish for catching waves and didn’t last the season. I want to help other families to be informed so that their child can have a better, safer time in the sea. Even if money is a big issue, these ‘snappers’ are such poor value that they are letting down both families and the environment.”
To spread awareness on this subject, the designer teamed up with Keep Britain Tidy to unveil a giant 22 metre dress crafted from these broken bodyboards abandoned on Devon and Cornwall’s beaches this summer. The #WaveOfWaste dress took two months to make, using 100 boards – but bear in mind BeachCare collected a whopping 560 boards that were stuffed into bins, dumped in sand dunes or left on the beach!
BeachCare Officer Neil Hembrow says: “We are only touching the surface here. The impact of more plastic entering our marine environment is devastating for our wildlife and we also estimate that more than 14,000 of these boards are heading to landfill each summer season, costing tax payer’s money.”
The #WaveOfWaste Dress was modelled by former pro surfer and Newquay resident Emma Adams, who is also the sister of British and European Longboard champion Ben Skinner. A team of volunteers helped to hold up the giant train of the stupendous creation.
Keep Britain Tidy is inspiring in the way it runs programmes including Eco-Schools, the Green Flag Award for parks and green spaces and the Blue Flag/Seaside Awards for beaches. Little by little, they’re changing people’s perspectives and consumer habits: “Although better-quality boards may cost more, they are more likely to last ten summer holidays rather than just ten minutes. These cheap boards are manufactured in China, shipped more than 11,000 miles, distributed to stores and surfed for ten minutes before breaking and going to landfill. They are shipped across the planet to end up buried in the South West,” laments Neil Hembrow.
In order for the old, cheap boards not to go to waste, they’ll be given to the Children’s Scrapstore in Bristol to be upcycled into other creations. The mission of the BeachCare programme will expand all over the UK this year, with the Wave Of Waste dress touring around the country to raise awareness on this issue.