Talking Trash in Honor of Earth Day 40

Celebrate Earth Day 40! Remember the Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Photograph: Amber Fowler, designer and creator

No silly!

Not that kind of trash… rather, the importance of the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Privileged to live in one of the finest natural settings in the world, I designed and created the costume that I am wearing in the photo to your left to represent the Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.

Made entirely from items once bound for our Idaho landfills, among its many features are Lay’s Potato Chip bags, FedEx packaging, 1,000 feet of assorted ribbon, 750 plastic and metal paper clips, 500 Crystal Geyser bottled water caps, even 300 cat food labels! The "crowning glory": a Purex bleach bottle embellished with 33 glittering Starbucks Coffee labels.

The genesis of this project? In 2006, while calling beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho my home, our city officials pondered whether they should require all of the city’s citizens and businesses to recycle.

The recycling discussion stemmed from larger deliberations on renewing options for the city’s garbage collection service. Officials decided a mandatory recycling program would need to be incorporated into Sun Valley’s practices in order to maximize recycling efforts.

However, the shorter story is this: the recycling debate amounted to a deeper discussion among my family members about the premise that all people, regardless of race, gender, income or geography, have a moral right to a healthy, sustainable environment.

The outcome of these intellectual debates resulted in my finding an unusually creative way to educate school age children about their ability to achieve The Three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle their own (and possibly others) trash. 

Part education, part consumer activism, the brightly colored costume has served as a small scale project geared to teaching children the importance of lowering their carbon footprint while promoting a healthy and sustainable environment.

Mesmerized by the sheer physical size of the costume, coupled with the key features of the flamboyant ensemble, children were equally intrigued by the fact I’d intentionally chosen to dumpster-dive at a nearby Starbucks in order to collect the additional coffee label embellishments to complete the “Crowning Glory” headpiece.

Simply put, becoming aware of how much we discard, and changing our habits about buying and using everyday household and personal items, everyone – from school age children to senior citizens — can reduce the amounts of waste by purchasing products that are less toxic or contain less packaging, using reusable containers, maintaining and repairing products, participating in recycling programs, and even purchasing products made from recycled materials.

As we prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 25, 2010, it is only by implementing the Three R’s: reducing waste, reusing materials and products, and recycling that the most powerful engines of conservation remain the citizens and businesses of not only the great state of Idaho, but the entire world.



30 lbs. of trash once destined for Idaho landfills


9 months, 4 days, 17 hours, & 22 minutes


Yup! Sure did!


(One has got to possess a sense of humor to wear this little ensemble in public)

~ 6’ 1¾” tall – in bare feet

~ 6’ 4¾” tall – in 3” heels

~ 7’ 8’ tall – wearing “Crowning Glory”

~ 8’ 7” tall – “Sun Valley staff”


~ 750 plastic & metal paper clips

~ 300 Precise cat food labels

~ 500 Crystal Geyser bottled water caps

~ 1,000+ ft. of assorted ribbon

~ 52 Starbucks Coffee labels

~ “Crowning Glory": a Purex bleach bottle embellished with glittering Starbucks Coffee labels!

~ Every form of glue known to man! :)


~ Reuse gives your purchases another life.

~ Recycling lets each of us to positively impact the environment.

~ Recycling isn’t new. Our grandparents did it, and we can too!

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