Cape Elizabeth high schooler wins ecomaine’s ‘Upcycle Challenge’ for second consecutive year

Aurora Milton’s design and execution of a stylish jumper made from old materials wins $500 grand prize

ecomaine announced that Aurora Milton, a junior at Cape Elizabeth High School, won its annual Upcycle Challenge for her design and manufacturing of a jumper made from other old clothing and fabric, including a touch from her own homecoming dance dress, that might have otherwise been discarded.

Voted on during the month of April in celebration of Earth Day, the contest featured two other entries as finalists – a bike wheel, glass bottles, and found materials from nature made into a wind chime by Westbrook’s Intercultural Community Center; and Fiddlehead Center for the Arts in Scarborough’s design of a functional dollhouse made from old wreath box, with furniture, curtains, and accessories made from old straws, cardboard, paper, paper and toilet paper tubes, left over flooring tiles, sharpie caps, and more.

In just over two weeks, the contest saw more than 1,000 votes; Milton’s pants garnered 71% of the vote, earning the $500 grand prize for Cape Elizabeth High School.

From Milton’s contest entry: “April showers bring May flowers and a distaste for fast fashion. In Spring 2023, consumers are focusing on wearable, sustainable pieces as opposed to mass-produced microtrends. This upcycled jumper perfectly represents this mindset, offering a timeless, Y2K, romantic comedy look. Appealing to the environmentally conscious, this garment is made exclusively from retired materials: the base of the jumper formerly belonged to a dress found at Goodwill, and the black straps and bust band came from an old pair of pants. Even the appliqué on the chest was salvaged from remnants of the designer’s upcycled Homecoming dress. Wearable for any occasion throughout the year, this jumper makes for an iconic runway look.

“All three finalists did such an amazing job,” said Matt Grondin, ecomaine’s Communications Manager.  “It’s important to congratulate each of them for their great creativity; it’s clear that Aurora’s design resonated with Maine voters in the Upcycle Challenge.”

The 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.

Aurora Milton’s Upcycled Jumper, winner of the 2023 Upcycle Challenge