Trashy Fashion

Sanitary Fill Co. is more than a patron of waste transfer. At the company's processing facility in San Francisco, haute couture shares equal billing with garbage.

Fashion designer Daphne Ruff leads the cotillion of sculptors, designers and multimedia professionals who are paid by Sanitary Fill Co. to search through its trash for artistic fodder. In exchange, the artists receive studio space, a stipend and unlimited access to the dump.

In her studio, Ruff displays shoes and purses made from old board games and coffee cans. She's also fashioned hats and dresses made from lampshades and steel wool. One client even commissioned a Ruff original wedding gown made from a bale of discarded white paper.

Sanitary Fill Co. also promotes its artists with studio tours, art exhibitions and a sculpture garden to help meet its obligation to promote recycling in the city. “It makes people think twice about the garbage they generate,” says Paul Fresina, the company's program director. “The art studio is right next to 2,700 tons of garbage.”