Recycling Your American Pride

Ripped jeans are more than just a teenage trend — they're now a symbol of national pride, thanks to the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Recycling Office.

In late October, 50 fourth- and fifth-graders at Nebinger Elementary School, Philadelphia, tore used clothing such as denim jeans into strips to create flags to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Clothing strips became the flag stripes, and other recycled textiles were used to create the stars.

Leo Sewell of the Philadelphia-based Dumpster Divers, a group of local artists who create art from recycled materials, donated the fabric and buttons. Sewell also served as third-party program coordinator to support the Salvation Army's and Philadelphia Recycling Office's efforts.

“Some flags were artistic, some were patriotic and some had political messages,” says Pamela Rosser, a Philadelphia Recycling Office consultant. “It was interesting to see how different kids interpreted the assignment in this time of turmoil.”

Each flag measures 9 inches by 12 inches and was glued onto pieces of cardboard. Flag colors ranged from traditional red, white and blue to more artsy purple, yellow and maroon.

Houston-based Waste Management Inc., another program sponsor, donated $500, or $10 for every flag made, to the Salvation Army World Trade Center Relief Fund. Waste Management also underwrote the cost to create holiday and blank greeting cards with the flags printed on the front.

“We'll take the two best flags and make the holiday cards,” says Guy Huttlin, general sales manager for Waste Management in Philadelphia.

The cards were officially introduced at an event held on America Recycles Day (ARD) on Nov. 15 at the city's Please Touch museum. Proceeds from the cards' sale also will go to the World Trade Center relief fund.

The flag collage will tour Philadelphia through 2002 and can be seen in public buildings, retail establishments, city government buildings and schools. No permanent spot has been found for the flags yet, Rosser says, but the search continues.

Greeting cards are available year-round. To purchase cards, call Pamela Rosser at (215) 772-0118.