Environmental, financial cost of high school prom

Think back to your high school prom for a minute—go ahead. Depending on your age, this may require a great amount of digging or not much at all. What do you remember? Undoubtedly, you’ll remember your date, your outfit, dinner and dancing. It might not come to mind as immediately as those other things, but perhaps you’ll remember one more aspect of your prom: the price tag.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times story, the total cost of attending prom is $1,139 on average, as much as an international flight or a brand new MacBook Air laptop. Your own prom experience may have been an expensive one, but even if you are only a few years removed from high school, $1,139 is a significant increase: it’s 40 percent more than the average of $807 in 2011.

For many prom-goers, the priciest part of the evening is the dress. It’s surprisingly common for a high school girl to spend well over $400 dollars for a prom dress, something she’s only likely to wear one time. The result is two different burdens: the financial burden of the prom attendee, of course, and the environmental impact of producing the dress.

Common materials for prom dresses include silk, organza and satin, all of which require chemically intensive manufacturing processes and transportation across seas, as they are mainly produced in Asia. Like every article of clothing, a prom dress has an environmental footprint, and it’s quite a large one.

At USAgain, clothing and textile reuse and recycling is what we do best. We also thrive to be connected to the communities in which we operate, so we’re aware of the financial burden that prom presents for a high school girl. We put one and one together and realized we had a solution to the high-cost, environmentally unfriendly dilemma that prom presents: Prom Goes Green. Here’s our official Prom Goes Green Video.

Going to prom is expensive, no doubt, and considering the nature of today’s economy, shelling out four figures for a one-day event is unrealistic for many students and families. On average, teens cover 41 percent of their prom costs, which adds up to weeks or months of after-school or summer work for one night.

Used clothing, in many cases, is just as good as new stuff, and for the Earth, it’s much preferred. Every time one T-shirt is reused, seven pounds of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere. Producing a prom dress is far more environmentally detrimental than a t-shirt, making every reused prom dress an important step toward maintaining Earth’s inhabitability.

Sometimes, a financially draining event like prom is also hard on the environment. If you’re still planning this year’s prom or looking ahead to next year, we urge you to look at the eco-friendly option of wearing a used dress or even making your own from extra fabric lying around your home. You’ll find that it’s an eco-friendly choice, too.

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