A crowd gathers around the yard of the Denton Civic Center as models strut across the stage dressed in their elaborate creations. The audience cheers as each designer flaunt their new look: a plastic bottle train, a scrap fabric sleeve and a hula hoop-hoop skirt.
These sustainable designs made their debut at the 10th Thistle Creative Reuse Runway, just one of several festivities available at the annual Redbud Festival held on April 23.
Lauren Cordova, 35, the show’s Best Environmental Message winner, made her white, ’50s-inspired dress from Tyvek, a waterproof synthetic plastic used to develop new housing. Her gold underskirt seen through cutouts in the Tyvek was crafted from a mylar balloon she found in an alley in Waco. Cordova, who has watched several past Reuse Runways, said the festival’s event can help others learn more about the concept of waste in all areas of consumption, not just fashion.
“I think that the Redbud Festival and this runway show really kind of plant the seeds of the idea of creative reuse,” Cordova said. “It’s made me really question the idea of waste and its impact on the environment.”
Hosted by Keep Denton Beautiful, the 27th Redbud Festival served as Denton’s official Arbor Day celebration to promote community beautification. At the fest, families could attend multiple environmental educational workshops, including tree care classes and butterfly gardening. Attendees could also visit with local plant and gardening supplies vendors, such as Painted Flower Farm and Tree Shepherds, and take part in an Earth Day Ceremony with Denton City Council.
Due to COVID-19, the festival was put on hold for the past two years. Autumn Natalie, Keep Denton Beautiful program and events manager, said she has seen how other community members have had to do their part on their own to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day without community events. Because of this, she believes it is all the more thrilling to bring them back together in one place to learn more about how to protect and take care of the planet.
“It’s great to see all the familiar faces from my first Redbud and that people are still dedicated to spreading the same awareness and bringing the same message of environmental responsibility,” Natalie said. “That’s what I really love seeing every year.”
This is the first year that the Denton Parks and Recreation Department has partnered with the event to hold their annual Honey Run 5K and one mile Fun Run in conjunction with the festival. Natalie said the collaboration has proved to be a beautiful partnership and further demonstrates the festival’s goal to bring awareness to environmental issues, such as the importance of bees.
“We not only have education here for people to learn more about what they can do for the Earth year-round but help them celebrate it, too,” Natalie said. “If we can also plant that seed for environmentalism at a young age, that’s great. That’s what we hope to see.”
Lillia Whittington, local content creator and Reuse Runway emcee, said while her work often involves sustainability, she knows many others across the community do not know how to participate in local environmental efforts. Whittington sees the Redbud Festival as an open opportunity for others to learn how even small efforts can greatly impact their local environment.
“Small steps really make a difference, whether it’s just planting a tree or whether it’s understanding how recycling works, or even just supporting local businesses that have sustainable mindsets,” Whittington said. “Every little bit counts.”
Other attendees, like Denton resident Grant Chesser, 27, felt the festival can also help those familiar with sustainability learn new ways to contribute to the planet. By working with local vendors and government organizations, Chesser said it is great to see the city put effort into increasing awareness about one’s environmental impact. In doing so, he said such forms of education can grow to better the community as a whole.
“It’s definitely something that gives us a lot of pride in knowing that we live in a community where other people have the same values as us,” Chesser said. “One of the best ways to get in touch with people who aren’t aware [of environmentalism] is by just sharing the love that goes around into this.”