How Bay Area prom dress recycling business is empowering students, helping environment

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Friday, April 19, 2024
How Bay Area prom dress recycling business is empowering students
'Say Yes to a Prom Dress' in San Mateo County collects prom dresses and gives them away to high school students at a try-on event.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Business owner Lele Keeton and student Shahbano Aurangzeb are passionate about saving the environment. And to help them do that, they're recycling prom dresses.

Keeton co-founded Say Yes to a Prom Dress six years ago.

"Our first thing was reduce, reuse, recycle," Keeton said.

Keeton co-owns HMB Pilates. She and her co-chair collect prom dresses at their businesses then give them away to high school students at a try-on event, featuring hundreds of dresses and even jewelry.

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"People love just being able to pass the dresses along," Keeton said. "We've had students that have come in and they're like, 'Do you have so and so's dress that she wore last year?..' So we even get requests for other peoples' dresses that were worn in previous proms."

Half Moon Bay High's Environmental Club got involved this year.

"We're just reusing something that we already have," said senior Shahbano Aurangzeb, who is an officer. "So it's financially, economically better and better for the environment as well. You reduce carbon emissions as well."

And it can help students in need.

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"Dresses can also be quite expensive, anywhere from like $60 to maybe $200 so I think it gives people a lot of dignity to be able to wear something that they would dream of wearing but maybe couldn't if they had to pay for it," Aurangzeb said.

HMB Pilates already gave out the dresses and isn't collecting any more dresses this year. But Half Moon Bay High's prom is next weekend and many girls will be wearing the dresses.

"Already I'm so excited because I know everyone's showing each other their dresses," Aurangzeb said.

"It's so great," Keeton said. "I'm always looking on Facebook and Instagram when all the prom photos come out trying to pick out all the dresses. We know all the dresses that we have and so it's fun to see the girls wearing them."

And perhaps other girls will re-wear them at the next prom.

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