Skip to main content

Introducing new learning courses and educational videos from Apress. Start watching

Garbage In ≠ Garbage Out

  • 6979 Accesses


“EEEP. EEEP. EEEP. EEEP. EEEP.” Missy came awake through a fog of exhaustion as she slammed her fist on the button of her radio alarm clock. She sat up and looked around her room. Missy sighed heavily.

“EEEP. EEEP. EEEP. EEEP. EEEP.” Missy came awake through a fog of exhaustion as she slammed her fist on the button of her radio alarm clock. She sat up and looked around her room. Missy sighed heavily.

For three straight nights, she had stayed up late sewing and ripping apart the same skirt. The denim strips that had been neatly laid out before were now strewn all over her bedroom. The rest of the skirt fabric lay in a heap on the floor under her sewing machine. Missy had thrown it there in a fit of anger the night before.

“Up and at ‘em,” Missy mumbled to herself. She was channeling G-ma in order to motivate herself to get out of bed. As soon as she set her feet on the floor, she heard her father call goodbye to her from the stairwell. She said ­goodbye and sleepwalked through breakfast, getting dressed and riding the bus to school. She wondered how she would make it through the day. Missy had never felt this tired in her life.

The first bell rang just as Missy stepped past Mrs. Towers to enter her ­homeroom class. Missy had health this semester, which was taught by the gym teachers. After her restless night, Missy was tired and mismatched. She had left her house without posting her #OOTD and had noticed on the bus ride that even her pigtails seemed to be drooping. Missy tugged one pigtail north as she dragged herself to her seat and noticed a note on the whiteboard in the front of the classroom: R U Ready? Recycling Assembly Today. Missy laughed to herself to see the missing letters from the last recycling ­promotion poster repeated on the board.

figure a

Other students caught sight of the note. Soon the whole class was chattering away. Missy yawned widely. She wondered which classes would be suspended while the assembly was held.

Mrs. Towers closed the door and picked up the remote for the class TV. “OK. Settle down,” Mrs. Towers said. “Let’s hear today’s announcements and then we will head to the school assembly.”

As the class settled down to listen, Missy noticed that Mrs. Towers wore her usual uniform of CHAPS-wear. She had on a gray sweatshirt and matching ­sweatpants both emblazoned with the school logo. Topping it all off was a ­silver whistle ­dangling from a black cord hung around her neck. Mrs. Towers clicked the remote and the CHAPS-TV channel came on. Three girls from the third grade led the school in the “Pledge of Allegiance,” then Chris Jones came onscreen to talk about the all-school assembly, which would be held in the school’s auditorium from 8:30 to 10:00 that morning. First-period classes were suspended and all other classes would be shortened by ten minutes, except lunch.

When the video concluded, Mrs. Towers announced, “This will be a great assembly! Pay attention, because students will be expected to develop new ideas for the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose program. So, be inspired and enjoy the assembly!”

Missy half-expected Mrs. Towers to blow her whistle when she finished speaking. Instead, Mrs. Towers used arm motions to direct the students to line up and then walk over to the common campus building, where the school auditorium was located.

For school assemblies, each grade sat together; so, Missy and AJ found their way to each other and pulled in the Figures and Icons friends they saw to sit with them.

The assembly turned out to be a performance by the Green Team Theatre Troupe, or GT3. They performed a tale of two schools—one that didn’t ­recycle and one that did. Both schools started out the same. Over the years, the non-green school spent so much money on waste disposal and ­replacement purchases that it could no longer afford the latest technologies, new books and important materials for its students, and the upkeep of its buildings. Meanwhile, the school that focused on reducing waste, reusing and repurposing older materials and recycling in other ways had plenty of money for new technologies and top-notch labs and facilities. The green school also ­encouraged its students to develop innovative programs to continually improve their green-status. Over time, the green school and its students were able to help the failing non-green school to recover by showing them how to be greener.

Missy couldn’t help but laugh out loud, when the troupe’s narrator closed the show by saying, “It isn’t easy being green, unless you and you and you (he pointed to individuals all throughout the audience) and you and you and me JUMP IN!” At those final words, the whole troupe jumped to center stage and dance music blared over the speakers. “Jump! Jump! Jump in!” they chanted in tune with music. The students cheered and the show ended with the curtains closing and all the students dancing in the aisles.

“I’m so pumped!” Morgan said as they headed back to their classes. “I never thought I could be so excited by recycling,” she added.

“I know it. Me too,” AJ said.

The show had invigorated Missy, though she had been quiet. “I wonder,” she started, feeling a new energy pumping her up.

“What’s that, Miss?” Danny asked.

“What if we made Figures and Icons all about recycling for this whole year?” Missy pondered. “I mean, we did a great job on our first fashion competition. And, we didn’t even HAVE to use old and recycled materials. What if we make using old clothes or donated fabric like part of our charter or something?”

Danny scratched his head, “I like it! It could work. We should talk to Mrs. Frisch to see what she says.”

“I’m thinking we could do even more,” Morgan said. “What if we start a ­mending club? That could help too. We could be greener and be helpful to others and maybe get some fabric donations that way too.”

AJ and Missy nodded. “Cool!” they exclaimed together. “JINX!” they both said. Then AJ and Missy spent a minute on the Jinx game. Jinx was a longtime favorite game played by Missy and her friends. It could only be played when two people said the exact same word at the exact same time. Whenever that happened, whoever declared “Jinx!” first won the game and silenced the other person. In order to be released from the jinx, another person had to call the ­jinxed person by name. In this round, Missy and AJ had not only said ­matching words but also declared matching jinxes, which extended the game into a kind of overtime. “I love that too,” Missy finally said, after winning the jinx and ­silencing AJ until someone said her name.

Danny took pity on AJ who was rocking back and forth on her heels and seemed ready to jump out of her skin from excitement. He said, “AJ? What’s that?”

AJ high-fived Danny and said, “Let’s talk to Mrs. Frisch after school and see what she says!” They all agreed, then split up to get to their second-period classes.

figure b

Missy shuffled her way through her morning classes eager to get to lunch to talk to her friends about their upcycling ideas. As she walked into her math class, she remembered the scheduled test. Her heart skipped a beat and she held her breath for a moment then blew it out. It was too late to study and too silly to panic. Missy would have to make do with what she knew AND what she did not know. She looked down at her feet and walked to her seat. On the plus side, the test would have to be short since all her classes were abbreviated because of the assembly.

When the lunch bell rang, Missy looked down at her math test and noticed she still had three problems to complete. Where had the time gone? She quickly read the remaining questions and jotted down her answers without taking the time to show her calculations, as the instructions had directed her to do.

Ms. Jameson cleared her throat to get the attention of the last few students still working. “Wrap up, boys and girls. Class has ended.”

The remaining students handed their tests to Ms. Jameson, packed up their belongings and filed out of the room. Missy was the last one to hand in her test.

“Everything OK?” Ms. Jameson asked Missy. Missy usually finished her assignments and tests much more quickly, often ahead of everyone else in the class.

“Oh. Yes,” Missy answered looking dazed and still wondering how the time had gotten away from her.

“OK. Off to lunch then,” Ms. Jameson said.

figure c

Members of the fashion club congregated in the hallway outside the art ­studio, and Morgan and Missy filled them in on their idea to make incorporating recycled and repurposed fabrics into their designs as a theme for the year.

Paula had a few reservations. “I’m not sure that will work for the whole year,” Paula explained. “Last year, we had a challenge that required alternative ­materials—like not even fabric. Some teams used hardware and others used office supplies—it was super awesome and crazy. I remember that the winning look was made entirely out of rope and pieces of colorful garden hoses!”

Missy’s jaw dropped. She was speechless. The belt that Ivy made for the first challenge came to mind and other images started dancing in her head. The idea of alternative fabrics really excited her. AJ poked her in the ribs to get her attention. “Whaaa?” Missy asked, coming back to the conversation. “Oh. Sorry,” she added closing her mouth and listening.

Kate chimed in, “Really? That sounds super cool. I wonder if those kinds of materials could be collected from recyclables too.”

Missy turned away from the group when she heard the click-click of Mrs. Frisch’s taupe pumps coming down the hallway. Mrs. Frisch sported a fuchsia sheath dress with a subtle pattern of polka dots that could only be seen when the light reflected off the material. An artful scarf with silver threads running through it draped her shoulders and accented her perfectly made-up face. She wore her hair in a stylish bun with two chopsticks crisscrossed at the base. As usual, Mrs. Frisch was looking totally fab.

“Hello Figures and Icons,” Mrs. Frisch sang as she unlocked the classroom. “Welcome! I’d like to hear your ideas about fundraising and planning for our next competitions.”

The students poured into the room, excitedly speaking over each other.

Paula stepped to the front of the room and cleared her throat. “Ok. We’ve got a few big things to talk about today,” she started, “but before we jump into that, I know we all want to hear the comments from the judges on our True To You designs.”

On cue, Mrs. Frisch handed out the scorecards to the teams who had already paired up around the room. “As you review the judges’ remarks and ­comments, remember that feedback is a gift,” Mrs. Frisch told the students. “The judges loved all the designs and want to help us improve as we progress through other challenges this year.”

The teams reviewed the scorecards silently, handing them back and forth between team members.

“Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything that you don’t understand,” Mrs. Frisch said.

AJ and Missy scanned their scorecard and read the comments.

“Great, fresh look!”

“Modern and fun.”

“Excellent sewing.”

“Love the inspired reuse of fabrics!”

“OK. Moving on,” Paula announced as the chatter picked up around the room. “Fundraising.”

Morgan raised her hand. When Paula called on her, she explained the mending club idea. The students discussed how they could raise money and help other students not only to be more green but also to continue to wear their favorite pieces of clothing even though a repair was needed. After some debate, the students agreed that they could charge a small fee—one dollar for sewing on buttons and two dollars for sewing on patches and doing other minor repairs. The plan was to take in items to be repaired after school one day a week. Depending on how much work they received, the club would get together after school, do the sewing and patching, and return the items one week later. They hoped they could raise one hundred dollars over the course of the year that they could use for notions, small accessories and maybe an end-of-year party.

“I’ll make an online form so we can keep track of the mending club activities, like the work we get, who does the sewing and how much money we make,” said Morgan.

“I love that idea,” Mrs. Frisch commented. “Let’s make it official and vote on it!”

The club unanimously accepted the mending club fundraising idea, and Kate, Mahdavi and Danny agreed to get permission to use a corner of the library as a receiving point and to set up the logistics, while AJ committed to promoting it around the school and online.

“Next, we want to run something by you, Mrs. Frisch,” Paula said “We were all so inspired by GT3 at today’s assembly. We think we can make a positive impact by using recycled materials for all of our challenges this year. What do you think?”

“Wow! What a great concept!” Mrs. Frisch said.

“Do you think we can use recycled materials for the alternative materials competition?” Paula asked.

“I do!” Mrs. Frisch responded excitedly. “That challenge will be next month, and the theme is Green-Piece. Teams will have to use items like recycled ­plastic, cans, cardboard and paper to create designs. So, I think your concept can work for this and all the other challenges, too” Mrs. Frisch explained.

Danny raised his hand and Paula called on him. “Are you serious? We have to use garbage?” he asked with a look of disgust. “Really?” Danny had been onboard with the idea of reusing donated fabrics and repurposing old clothing, but the thought of using garbage had changed his mind.

“Well, yes,” Mrs. Frisch answered. “But the point of the alternative ­materials challenge is that you will need to transform the so-called garbage into a ­wearable, lovely garment! What better way to recycle something than to ­create something beautiful?”

“Hmmm,” Danny pondered the idea, not completely sold on it. He crossed his arms in front of his chest. “In any case, we’ll need to set up the ­mending station for accepting clothes needing repairs. I can work on that,” Danny ­commented. “I’ll have to do some more thinking on this whole garbage thang,” he stage-whispered to Mahdavi with an extra twang of his accent.

“Maybe we can put out a box to take donations near the mending area?” he asked out loud.

“Oooh! Not too near,” Mahdavi commented, “that could be disastrous!”

“Gosh! You’re right!” Missy laughed at the thought of well-loved items coming in for repair but ending up remade into something completely new.

figure d

“OK,” said AJ. “I can put a call out on our SocialMe pages and add an announcement on CHAPS-TV. I’m on it,” she concluded, making a note in her notebook.

The club discussed the challenges set for each of the competitions ahead. Then they shared and discussed designs, sketches and ideas until the meeting concluded.

Missy noticed her friends Megan and Kim passing by the art room. She ­wondered where they were heading to in such a hurry. AJ poked Missy in the ribs, pointing at the opened door, and whispered, “Where are those two off to in such a rush?”

“No idea,” Missy said, though her curiosity was piqued.

When the meeting ended, Missy and AJ meandered down the hallway. When they neared Ms. Jameson’s classroom, they slowed down to listen at the open door. Peter Ng, the math club president, was speed-reading math problems and calling out student names for the answers.

figure e

Twenty-three point seven, Missy calculated. Then she heard a mathlete respond, “Twenty-three point seven.”

“Right,” said Peter who quickly went on to read the next problem and to call on another mathlete.

Six hours and twelve minutes.

“Six hours and twelve minutes,” came another response.

Missy answered a dozen questions correctly in her head before AJ tugged her elbow and whispered, “Why don’t you join them? I know you’ll love it!” AJ said.

“Nah,” said Missy walking toward the end of the hall. “It’s not for me.”

FormalPara Fashion Hack: Hobo Bag How-to
  1. 1.

    Find an old pair of jeans and an adult-sized belt that you want to remake (get permission from your parents!).

  2. 2.

    Cut off the legs at a slight angle, being careful to NOT cut the pockets on the back or the pocket liners of the front pockets.

    figure f
  3. 3.

    Sew or staple the leg openings closed. To hide the seams, you can sew or staple from the inside of your bag by turning the piece inside-out.

  4. 4.

    Thread the belt through only the front and side loops (not the back), fasten the buckle and voila! You have a long strap to carry your bag. You could also use an old necktie or a thin scarf and knot it closed.

    figure g
  5. 5.

    Add buttons or ribbons or use fabric paint to create a design on it. Have fun while you embellish your bag to make it your own!

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Open Access This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (, which permits any noncommercial use, sharing, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license and indicate if you modified the licensed material. You do not have permission under this license to share adapted material derived from this book or parts of it. The images or other third party material in this book are included in the book's Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the book's Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Melissa A. Borza and CA

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Borza, M.A. (2017). Garbage In ≠ Garbage Out. In: Fashion Figures. Apress, Berkeley, CA.

Download citation