By Dena Sloan
Globe Staff Writer
NEOSHO, Mo. - Temporarily trading his customary black robe for an off-white T-shirt made of discarded plastic bottles, Newton County Circuit Judge Tim Perigo said his stint as a model Friday afternoon will be short-lived.
"It's kind of out of my comfort zone," Perigo said, removing a belt made from recycled rubber in the back office of the Neosho Recycle Center.
But Perigo was willing to don the polo shirt three sizes too small in the recycling center's second annual Recycled Fashion Show. Using a flatbed trailer as the show's runway, 20 local officials, members of the business community and other volunteers strutted their stuff and displayed items made from recyclable products.
Bags made of recycled rubber, a comb composed of retired U.S. paper currency and a bright red bathrobe made of recycled yogurt cups were displayed by volunteer models recruited by Bobby Gregg, executive director of Associated Recyclers of the Midwest, the nonprofit organization that runs the two-year-old recycling collection center.
"I'd say about 99 percent of people I asked accepted right away," Gregg said of his models.
The show is part of the center's continuing efforts to advertise its services. The recycling center's business has been growing steadily since opening in September 2001. Last year's collection reached 242 tons of recyclable goods, and about 365 tons have been collected as of the end of October of this year, Gregg said.
"People always ask me, 'What's my goal?'" he said. "My goal is that we keep increasing."
Gregg said he purposefully scheduled the fashion show to occur before the Thanksgiving and Christmas season because increased seasonal activities and gift-giving generate extra trash. To accommodate the extra waste, the center will accept wrapping paper, Christmas trees and boxes, he said.
Though Gregg and his band of staff and volunteers spend their work days surrounded by crates of old milk containers, cans, and glass bottles awaiting a trip to recycling plants, some of the models said their modeling careers are temporary.
Brad Taylor, a local certified public accountant, generated whistles and applause from the audience as he spun and posed. Showing off an apron made of recycled plastic bottles, he said he doesn't see a future for himself as a model.
"I'm strictly an amateur," he said. "I think my status is not in jeopardy."
By Dena Sloan