Planet Protecting-Prom: Dance the Night Away Eco-Guilt-Free

Sandy and Danny dancing in the movie Grease

Corsages and cummerbunds mark prom season just before the end of the school year. Soon students will be shopping for dresses, tuxes, and limos, but at what cost to the environment? If you’re a freshman to the world of sustainability, take note of these tips for a planet-protecting prom.

Various prom dresses

Give Fast Fashion the Slip

It can be difficult to avoid those inexpensive clothing items when you or your teenager are fashion-forward on a budget. But, armed with the knowledge that the fashion industry (especially fast fashion) is one of the main contributors to landfill waste, pollution, and unfair labor practices, it might be a little easier to give up those bargain garments. Instead, try purchasing something secondhand. Just because it was previously owned, that does not mean it is cheap, tacky, or unsophisticated. In fact, most prom dresses are only worn once, so it’s likely any “used” dress will be in excellent condition—not to mention less expensive. You can also get creative and refashion a secondhand item that has potential. Don’t have enough room in your closet or not as creative as you’d like to be? Find a dress rental company in your area—tuxes are rented, so why can’t a dress be? Another option can be a formal clothing exchange between friends, an exchange program, or even your library—yes, your library! There are also plenty of places to donate your dress when you’re done with it.

Olive Oyl applying makeup

Makeover Your Cosmetic Bag

Looking your best doesn’t stop at your outfit, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of the planet. Whether you or your teen wears makeup or simple moisturizer, applies lots of hair product or just needs a razor to get rid of unwanted stubble, there is an earth-friendly option for everyone. Start by asking what cosmetics and beauty accessories are made of—plastic or natural ingredients? Biodegradable or single-use? What about excess packaging? Look for zero-waste companies, or DIY your cosmetics.

Limo driving to dance

Limopool

If you or your teen can afford to rent a limo, make sure to get as many passengers as possible. This will help offset the carbon emissions created by driving multiple cars, and it can also help bring down the cost of the rental. If a limo isn’t in the cards, try regular carpooling or even a pedicab if the venue is nearby. No one expects anyone to ride their bike in their formals, but a pedicab or even a horse-drawn carriage can be a fun and eco-friendly option if the dance is nearby.

Peter Parker handing a corsage to his date

Corsage Compost

After the night is over, the formal footwear is kicked off and it’s time to hit the hay, don’t toss your boutoniere or corsage in the trash. If you don’t plan on hanging on to your flowers as a keepsake, compost it or throw it in your yard waste bin minus the ribbons, pins, and other decorations—you can always reuse those, but they don’t belong in the pile with other organic waste.

Now get out there and promenade that planet-protecting way, knowing you did the right thing for future prom-goers!

— TC Clark
Posted on Apr 8, 2019

Summary: Corsages and cummerbunds mark prom season just before the end of the school year. Soon students will be shopping for dresses, tuxes, and limos, but at what cost to the environment? If you’re a freshman to the world of sustainability, take note of these tips for a planet-protecting prom.