Rubbish Co., a KC pair turning trash into art and activism
Rubbish Co. is a young organization, as is the duo — Phoebe Rain and Tiffani Starr — behind it. Since the beginning of the year, the environmentally minded pair has been finding fresh ways to merge art and conservation — a practice they call “artivism.” They’ve made clothes — in June, five of their trash-turned-outfit pieces walked in the West 18th Street Fashion show — and, on Earth Day, they organized a four-mile cleanup of Loose Park. On Friday, July 6, they’ll host “Rubbish Co. Feat. Young Guns Longboards Presents: Bridging the Gap to Artivism at The Bauer,” an auction of local art to raise money for the sustainable nonprofit Bridging the Gap. Below, Rain and Starr reply to our queries.
When did you guys start Rubbish Co.? Rain: She was a model and I was a photographer, and we met on site. Starr: We both have the goal to get people to reconsider waste, discarding, purchasing single-use items, and the way we reuse.
How did fashion come out of that? Starr: We got invited to participate in it [the West 18th Street Fashion Show], and we thought it would be a really great platform to bring awareness to conservation and how people can rethink the way that they purchase their fashion products. Rain: Plastic is everywhere. It’s in everything. We’re so wasteful with it. So I think it was really cool to show ways you could repurpose [certain] items when it comes to fast fashion.
What kind of recycled materials are you using? Starr: Everything you find in the recycling bin. Sequins cut out of gift bags, an air mattress that was punctured by a cat that was not usable anymore. We have a skirt that I made out of old photographs, a repurposed backpack, old fabric, old fitted shoes, old toys…
But it’s not just recycled clothing. Starr: We obviously want to bring awareness to repurposing clothing and material, but that isn’t the only thing that’s clogging up our landfills and ruining our oceans. It’s plastic. Rain: So I have a coat made out of all plastic. Starr: It’s gigantic, it’s so beautiful. And bottle caps — you could find 50 just walking outside on the road.
Are these clothing items meant to be functional, or just admired? Rain: It’s more like wearable art pieces. We don’t look at ourselves at all as fashion designers. This is one collection called The Landfill Line. It’s just one go-around. But yeah, all the pieces are wearable and comfortable.
Talk about Bridging the Gap to Artivism. Will some of these items be there? Starr: We actually aren’t featuring any pieces at all. It’s not our artwork. This was a cohesive effort with Young Guns Longboards in order to highlight local artists in Kansas City and local vendors in Kansas City. Rain: And raise money for Bridging the Gap, who organizes clean-ups and plants trees in the community. Starr: We want to make sure people are excited about giving back to the community and excited about their local artists and supporting everyone around.
Who will be at the event? Rain: We have 10 local artists there, including Alex Anderson, Elaina Mcendree, and Jared Horman. We’ll also have a food truck and local breweries like Stockyard Brewing Co. that will be donating beer and gift cards. Starr: We have a ticket fee: a piece of trash to get through the gate. Rain: Yes! And you’ll get a free drink card. And each artist will then have a piece or more up for auction, and those proceeds will go to Bridging the Gap.
What else is Rubbish Co. up to? Rain: What’s in the works right now, really, is that we are forming into an e-commerce store. So we’ll have an online store that will be a large variety of different curated, sustainable goods. Household goods, health and wellness things, beauty. Things that are packaged sustainably, made sustainably. Starr: We want other people, if this is an important thing for them — we want to work with you. We want to go clean up with you. We want to do all the things that we can do to make our community shine just a little bit brighter.