TRAASH proprietor Stephanie Romano has always loved making things. She excelled in art classes in high school, studied jewelry making in college and chose to make teaching art her career. The idea of using repurposed materials came to her accidentally when she discovered how to fuse layers of plastic bags together to make colorful and water-resistant fabric. With this technique, she began making wallets and after receiving several orders she also created zipper wallets, pencil cases, placemats, coasters, jewelry, and even hair clips. In January of 2012, she turned her plastic bag upcycling obsession into TRAASH and began selling at local craft fairs in and around her base of Jersey City, NJ. After a year of working with the bags, she began reusing other materials. During a power outage due to Hurricane Sandy, she picked up some rubber inner tubes in her studio and turned them into earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

Reusing and repurposing has become a natural way of life for Stephanie. In her classroom — old cardboard tubes become tree branches, paintings are done on used brown paper bags, and supplies are stored in surplus coffee cans. Because of her love of teaching and sharing ideas, she also started writing do-it-yourself projects which are featured monthly in the Jersey City Independent’s blog. Sharing ideas and repurposing materials with her students and others fulfills her need to be more environmentally responsible while at the same time encourages others to do the same. In the future, Stephanie hopes to open a creative reuse center in Jersey City to encourage others to explore their creativity through reuse. For more info, click here.