ecomaine announces winner of Upcycle2020 Challenge, winner of $2,020 grand prize

Katherine Bender of Falmouth High School upcycled old clothing into new hair accessories; wins grand prize for FHS

According to Katherine Bender, the desire to spend less time and money on new hair ties led her to design upcycled “scrunchies” from old pieces of clothing and fabric.  Her fashionable and sustainable thinking has now led to a $2,020 grant prize for Falmouth High School as part of ecomaine’s Upcycle2020 Challenge.

In celebration of Maine’s bicentennial, and to promote increased public awareness of the reusability of many materials, ecomaine, the Portland-based recycling and waste manager, launched the Challenge to students in its communities to take materials that normally would be discarded and create all-new, useable items.  The winning design, as chosen by ecomaine’s Outreach & Recycling Committee, received $2,020 for the school’s Green Team, STEM/Idea Lab, or Project Graduation.

Said Bender, “Anyone who has long hair knows that you are constantly having to buy new hair elastics or hair ties. So, instead of buying new scrunchies, I used old clothing that would have otherwise been thrown away. This makes it so that you no longer have to throw away clothing with perfectly good fabric, and you also save money on hair supplies.”

Caleb Hemphill, Chair of the Outreach & Recycling Committee, added, “With 60 entries received, we were bowled over by the creativity, resourcefulness, and thoughtful nature of these students and their designs.  Katherine’s design combined everything we were looking for – use of something that would usually be trash, utility of a new design, and creativity in seeing something new in old materials.  We’re grateful to Katherine and glad to grant this prize to Falmouth High School.”

Other entries included plastic bottles made into bird feeders, tires turned into furniture, and old sporting goods made into planters.

“We’re glad that our communities saw the value in thinking creatively about these materials as all-new resources,” said ecomaine CEO Kevin Roche.  “And our Board is enthusiastic about the contest’s future as a continued tool for engagement in schools around sustainability education.  We hope our schools will be on the lookout for a similar contest again in 2021.”