Cape Elizabeth high schooler wins ecomaine’s ‘Upcycle Challenge’

Aurora Milton’s design and execution of ‘90s-style trousers made from old materials wins $500 grand prize

ecomaine today announced that Aurora Milton, a sophomore at Cape Elizabeth High School, won its annual Upcycle Challenge for her design and manufacturing of pants made from old curtains and fabric that would have otherwise been discarded.

Voted on during the two weeks surrounding Earth Day 2022, the contest featured two other entries as finalists – old jeans turned into functional aprons by RSU #13’s (Rockland) Afterschool Program with The Landing Place, and a large tree sculpture made by Aria Pines and Portland’s Casco Bay High School Waste to Art Intensive with artist Kim Bernard.

In less two weeks, the contest saw more than 1,500 votes; Milton’s pants garnered 61% of the vote, earning the $500 grand prize.

From Milton’s contest entry: “Rewind to the 90s with these chic, street-style trousers. Recently inspired by 90s fashion, designer Aurora Milton took inspiration from many 90s idols such as Friends, TLC, and Destiny’s Child. By replacing a darker color with this off-white, retro becomes modern while still embodying the true nature of this era. No one would know that the creamy, cargo material of the legs is actually a window curtain saved from a swap shop. Or that the deep, utility pockets are made with an old flannel from Goodwill. Wearable in winter, summer, spring, and fall, any top paired with this pant would make a fabulous runway-ready look.”

“All three finalists did an amazing job,” said Matt Grondin, ecomaine’s Communications Manager.  “It’s important to congratulate each of them for their great creativity, and we are thrilled to see Aurora’s stylish, upcycled design win the grand prize.” The Upcycle Challenge asked students in ecomaine’s communities to use items that ordinarily would have been disposed of, to make all-new, functional ones.  ecomaine’s Outreach & Recycling Committee selected the three finalists based on their incorporation of post-consumer materials, the ingenuity and functionality of the new creation, inclusion of students in the process, as well as the approval from a teacher or advisor.