Recycle Runway Blog

Small Action, Big Impact Published: 10.26.2015 at 10:47 am by Nancy Judd

ReDress: Upcycled Style at the Stamford Museum

In September my traveling exhibition, ReDress: Upcycled Style, opened in the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, Connecticut. I visited the exhibition to give a presentation and workshop. I also had an unexpectedly empowering experience, but first, a bit about the trip. One of the neat things about the Stamford Museum is that in addition to the museum they have a huge farm with animals. I am excited to have my work there because their mission blends the arts, environmental stewardship and life-long learning.


Stamford Museum and Nature Center

Stamford Museum and Nature Center

I also found the history of the site to be quite interesting, it was built by a fashion magnate, Henri Bendel. Mr. Bendel made his mark by becoming the first retailer to brand himself. Having registered his own trademark in 1895, he created the now legendary brown and white striped shopping bag and hatbox. Bendel was the first luxury retailer with an upper Fifth Avenue address, and the first to stage a fashion show. This fact was particularly interesting to me since I began creating my sculptures for (recycled) fashion shows, so I feel indebted to his creation of this now ubiquitous event, a fashion show. He was also responsible for bringing Coco Chanel to the United States. He built the large 10,000 square-foot, neo-Tudor mansion as a summer home in 1929 and the Museum moved into the property in 1955. I really enjoyed exploring the house, grounds and beautiful marble sculptures shipped from Italy. I like to think that Henri would have enjoyed my exhibition of couture fashion with a twist!

Check out Justin's awesome new shoelaces and Amy's fall scarf!

Check out Justin’s awesome new shoelaces and Amy’s fall scarf!

After a well attended gallery tour and talk, the staff held a beautiful farm-to-table meal that was also a fundraiser for the Museum. Coincidentally, it was my Birthday and I was delighted to have over 50 people sing to me while I blew out the candle on the tallest cupcake I had ever seen! The next day I taught one of my favorite workshops, transforming old T-shirts into new objects. We began by making over 20 dog toys for a local animal shelter, and then the 15 participants created items ranging from shoe strings to scarves and reworked shirts with new style. I was excited that Amy and Justin from the Trashion Fashion Show joined us, they stage “trashion” shows on the East Coast using ballet dancers as models. I also met a wonderful woman who’s family-owned business is interested in sponsoring a new sculpture from me. Thank you to all the Museum staff for hosting me and my traveling exhibition.


Now, back to my unexpected experience: whenever I visit my exhibition at a new museum I always spend a little time with the sculptures making minor repairs, mostly gluing glass back on to the Glass Evening Gown! This time I also worked on the Eco-Flamenco dress which is covered with eco-pledges made by 5,000 people. The Museum invites visitors to take their own eco-pledges and so on a whim, I filled out a pledge card and shared it that night during my gallery talk: “I will ask all of the hotels that I stay in to turn down the temperature in the mini-refrigerators”.  This is a pet-peeve of mine because I always find them set on high, and I know that these refrigerators are used a very small percentage of the time they are on. When you think about the millions of hotel rooms around the world with refrigerators, this wastes a tremendous amount of energy which adds carbon to the atmosphere, unnecessarily contributing to climate change. So the day before I checked out of the Holiday Express Inn and Suites in Stamford (notably on the night of the full lunar eclipse and blood moon) I wrote my request on a comment card. By the time I returned home I had honestly forgotten about it until I received a note from the hotel manager saying: “We have shared your comments and feedback with our team and have started implementing (your suggestion) in our guest rooms.”

This was an empowering moment for me, I experienced how truly one small action can make a difference and it confirmed why I encourage people to make these pledges. I have since written to the parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group, to ask them to follow the lead of their hotel in Stamford and make this a policy at all of their properties.

Hotel room refrigerators, unnecessary contributors to climate change

I also did a little sleuthing around on the internet to see if I could find any information on the impact of mini-fridges in hotel rooms, the only thing I found was on, an organization in Denmark that awards eco-labels to over 2,400 hotels and other sites worldwide. They have their application form posted on-line and I was impressed to see a question asking the applying hotel if they have a policy to TURN OFF refrigerators (and TVs) when rooms are not in use. Not turn down, but turn OFF!

So, the next time you travel you might want to use this site,, to find a hotel that has a smaller carbon footprint. And if you encounter a refrigerator in your room, turn it to low (or off if you want to be radical) and leave a comment card for the hotel. And if they respond, please let me know!

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