Junk 2 Funk: Support and celebrate Earth Day in “style”

Looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day? Sure, you are — and even if you weren’t, well, Engineers Without Borders has the party you didn’t even know you wanted. The eighth annual Junk 2 Funk Fashion Show is happening this Friday, April 22, and if you’ve ever wanted to see a plethora of talented designers turn a bunch of literal trash into some elegant treasures, Junk 2 Funk is the place for you.

Junk 2 Funk is an event that brings students and Bozeman residents together to celebrate Earth Day and turn recycling into a tangible — and beautiful — concept. Designers from both MSU and the surrounding area create outfits made entirely out of recycled materials. In some cases, this refers to actual trash, and attendees of the show will see models wearing dresses made out of everything from recycled balloons to old ties to potato sacks. DPS Electronics — a local electrical engineering firm — is entering what they described as “a techno-Scottish kilt outfit” into the show.

“I got an email from them saying, ‘We’ll send you a picture as soon as our designer comes in and programs it,” Aubrey LaBarre, the coordinator for Junk 2 Funk, said. “So the dress is going to be programmed. I don’t know what that means, but I’m excited for it,” she added, laughing.

Junk 2 Funk is a major fundraiser for the Bozeman chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a nonprofit organization that works to build water and sanitation projects in the Khwisero district of Kenya. The group differs from other organizations in that they’ve been a consistent presence in Khwisero for years and will continue to be for years to come.

“There’s a common problem in volunteering called ‘volun-tourism,’ where groups will go to a place that they think is really cool or exotic, build a project, say ‘see ya later!’ and leave. [Often] times the projects end up failing within a couple of months or years, and [groups] never come back and try to figure out what they did wrong or help that community again,” LaBarre, who has been a part of the group that travels to Kenya, said. “We’re trying to avoid that as much as possible.”

EWB returns to Khwisero each summer, and in addition to building new projects, they run a series of past project follow-ups to make sure their past projects are being maintained and are still in working order. Sustainability is key to the mission of EWB, which is why Junk 2 Funk embodies much of what the organization strives for.

“One of the most crucial aspects of our projects is that they’re able to run for a long time, and that the community involved with them are able to [maintain] the project and that the project is able to outlast us,” LaBarre said. “So long after we’re gone, long after we’ve had a presence in Khwisero, the project that we implemented is still servicing the people in that area. And similar to recycled fashion, or just recycling in general, you want to keep things sustainable and alive and use products to their full potential there, too.”

“Engineers Without Borders” is a bit of a misnomer, because the club is open to everybody, not just engineering students, and everybody can fill a role. They’re currently in need of graphic design students to assist with advertising, as well as environmental science students to help with potential projects in Kenya. Other club members help with fundraisers, grant-writing, past project follow-ups, and logistical coordination, in addition to assisting with EWB’s main mission of building water and sanitation projects in Kenya.

But joining EWB isn’t the only way to support it — that’s one of the reasons Junk 2 Funk exists. In addition to the main fashion show, there will also be a silent auction where attendees can bid on dresses from the show and authentic Kenyan gifts purchased by EWB while in Kenya. So if you’re looking for a great way to celebrate Earth Day while supporting a fantastic cause, head to Junk 2 Funk this Friday. You might even see a T-Rex-themed outfit constructed out of plastic rainbow cups.

Junk 2 Funk will be held Friday, April 22nd, in SUB Ballrooms B,C and D. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for general admission and kids under six get in free.