Green Living Upcycle Design Challenge Proves You Can Make Garments From Garbage


Upcycle Fashion Before

Upcycle Fashion AfterUpcycle design contest winner transforms funeral flowers into fashion

By Laura Madden.

Artists, creatives and designers sometimes find inspiration in the most obscure places. Such is the case for the winner of our 2019 Green Living Earth Day Upcycle Design Challenge, Scott Stanton, who works exclusively with upcycled artificial cemetery flowers (those found in the trash).

In an attempt to reduce textile waste while sourcing materials for his upcycled art, Stanton rescues discarded artificial flowers from cemetery trash bins. The idea came to him in a dream – to give new life to the discarded flowers that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

In the U.S. alone,15 million tons of textiles are discarded into landfill every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Scott hopes that his reuse of items otherwise discarded as trash will help to expand people’s consciousness to think beyond what we consider to be trash, adding that the amount of discarded flowers he finds in just one cemetery supplies far more than enough for even his largest mural art pieces. It makes you wonder… that’s just one cemetery. As of 2016, Statista reports that there are over 20,000 cemeteries in the U.S. That adds up to a lot of artificial flower waste that could be reused in an artist’s work!

I asked Scott to describe his brand of art:

“With my current works, I include a blend of salvaged/upcycled artificial flowers from cemetery rubbish bins, hand-stitched to create large-scale works with plenty of texture and three-dimensionality. I like to believe the use of materials is what makes my pieces really stand out. I’ve always thought that one of the most peaceful places is a cemetery.”

Can upcycled art save the planet?

“While visiting the cemetery one day, I noticed how much waste was involved in regards to artificial flowers that end up becoming weathered and destroyed. Pounds of artificial flowers and plastics end up in the trash and could take thousands of years to degrade, either as pollution or taking up space in a landfill. I had the idea to upcycle the discarded silk flowers and stitch them into my work, not only to help reduce waste but to give these pieces of ‘trash,’ that had so much emotion tied to them at one point, a second life.”

Upcycle Design Scott StantonStanton relocated to Arizona from Michigan seeking diversity, greater opportunity in the art space, and a fresh start. His upcycled design was modeled by Kim Ho, whom he’d like to thank fondly. Stanton estimates that a minimum of 30 hours was spent on the creation of his design, hand-dying and hand-sewing approximately 300 flower pieces onto the finished garment.

Stanton speaks generously of having a strong support system in his life, to which he credits much of his success, including good friend and photographer Reid Woodward, and his sister Kristen.

Scott is currently available for commissions. You can learn more about his work on his website

Instagram @Onequarterveela

Pearlena Jackson was the runner-up in the Upcycle Design Challenge. Her design was modeled by her daughter, Quita Jackson. Pearlena is a phenomenally acclaimed fashion designer, designing since age 12. Fashion is her passion. It is her forte. Her style is described as innovative, opulent and eclectic, yet alluring. Old Hollywood glam and vintage influences her signature style.

After enduring numerous health challenges, Pearlena has now resurfaced and presents under her label Variations by Pearlena. She also designs a captivating headgear collection Hats of Glory, inspired by and dedicated to her late mother. Pearlena credits her creative abilities to God’s impeccable guidance, love and blessings.

Laura Madden is a sustainable fashion advocate, influencer, stylist and model who reports on the intersection of style, sustainability and self-esteem on both her blog, the ReFashion Report, and various conscious lifestyle publications. Laura also serves as a global ambassador for nonprofit Remake, a board member with San Francisco Fashion Community Week, and is a co-founder of AZ Sustainable Fashion. For more sustainable style and shopping tips, check out and follow her on Instagram @iamlauramadden.

Photo courtesy Scott Stanton

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.