Food Scraps for Fashion

July 03, 2019

During the Spring 2019 semester, Marist fashion design majors Tess Cimino, Caroline Ricci, Jacquelyn Kaiser and Pauline Selecky brought food, sustainability, and fashion together for the first time on Marist's campus. The four students sought to demonstrate the importance of natural dyeing through the use of food scraps to dye fabric.

The initiative took off when Cimino and Ricci approached Marist Dining Services for permission to collect food scraps from the Murray Student Center Dining Hall on a weekly basis.

The Marist Dining Services management team welcomed the idea and immediately trained all culinary staff to gather and store scraps for the students to collect. 

Soon after efforts began, Cimino and Ricci thought it would be a good idea to include more students in the initiative, thus the Red Fox Enrichment Chef Demo entitled, "A Dinner to Dye For" was formed. 

"A Dinner to Dye For" allowed students to prepare a meal, then use the scraps to make their own sustainably dyed t-shirts. Food scraps are actually perfect for creating rich colors for natural dyes. For example, avocado pits, when boiled, create a beautiful rich pink color that can substitute the use of harmful chemical dyes. 

I think it's important to raise awareness about sustainability and the benefits of natural dyeing and to educate the general public," said Tess Cimino, Class of 2019. 

"You can use food scraps, flowers and unconventional things you wouldn't think of to dye your clothing. You don't have to use chemicals. Chemical dyes account for 20% of the pollution of waterways. Slow fashion is sustainable fashion. You can give clothes a new life by buying a shirt from a thrift shop and dyeing it and upcycling it." 

In addition to food scraps, the students also planted herbs and spices in the Dining Hall's hyrdroponic gardens to be used for natural dyes. 

The event had a great turnout of over 30 students, all interested in learning more about sustainable fashion. Marist Dining Services looks forward to promoting sustainable initiatives in the future through more exciting events, especially when it involves bringing students' visions to life.