Written by Vanessa Jacks and edited by Paige Doughty (reprinted from Cottonwood Institute)
Prom is a tradition known around our nation and celebrated by high school students of every caliber. Often times, high school students buy a brand new outfit for every prom they attend. According to Annie Leonard, voice and face behind The Story of Stuff, only 1% of the “stuff” Americans buy is still in use six months after purchase. That means that 99% of the things Americans buy is trashed in 6 months or less! These are some of the reasons why the Earth Task Force (ETF) began to imagine a new way to approach prom.
Students from the ETF decided to educate their community about consumerism and give their peers an alternative option to buying new for prom. With donations from a popular second-hand store in Boulder called Savers, and personal donations by several members of the ETF, the Green Dress Exchange was born!
The idea is simple: bring a dress and get a different one in return. If you don’t have a dress to exchange, bring $10.00 instead. That way students spend a lot less money (or no money at all) on new prom outfits and still keep their other dresses in use.
The exchange was open to students throughout Boulder Valley School District. While it was difficult to effectively get the word out to every high school, in the end the dress exchange was a big success. There were more dresses than expected, and almost everyone that came traded in a dress.
Cookies were baked, music was played, and many people arrived. Students from two high schools attended to trade their dresses, and all left happy and well-clad in their new gowns. In total around twenty-five people came, only one of whom paid the ten dollar fee.
In addition to the Green Dress Exchange, students from the ETF transformed prom itself from a resource-intense endeavor to one with compostable cups, plates, and utensils, and awareness-raising about the amount of waste created by decorations and transportation to the event.
The Green Dress Exchange was the first event of its kind for the ETF, one that will definitely be repeated and expanded upon in 2012.
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