Courtesy of Nathan Laurenz ’22

Students participate in "Beyond Waste" prom to raise environmental sustainability awareness.

March 28, 2022

The Most Sustainable Prom: Campus Sustainability Holds First Ever “Beyond Waste” Prom

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On Saturday, March 26, the Campus Sustainability Office hosted an environmentally conscious “Beyond Waste” prom in the Willard Straight Memorial Hall. 

Attendees enjoyed a photo-booth, DJ, hor d’oeuvres and appearance of Touchdown, the University’s unofficial mascot, wearing a tuxedo.

Although the University’s transition into Code Yellow made holding the prom uncertain, the CSO ultimately decided to hold the event, requiring students to register and wear masks. K-95 masks and outdoor spaces were also available to help ensure guests’ safety amid rising cases of COVID-19.

Attendees were encouraged to dress up in prom-appropriate attire that was either thrifted, inherited, homemade or mended in some way in a solidary statement against the harmful environmental effects of fast fashion. 

The prom also featured a contest in which people showed off their sustainable clothes, and those who stuck around for the end of the event were able to take home some of the many plants placed around the event.

“The impetus for the campaign was to create something that people could get excited about that was refreshing. That wasn’t just looking at waste, and reducing waste,” said Emma Goldenthal ’22, a student sustainability coordinator at the CSO. 

In addition to modified prom outfits, the event organizers did not use disposable decorations. The attendees to the event enjoyed h’dourves from a buffet table using reusable plates.

“It seemed like everyone had a really fun time. It was really fun to hear comments from folks that they’re enjoying the experience. I feel like we did a really nice job of, pretty thoroughly, putting together parts of the events,” Goldenthal said.

The team was inspired by climate competitions such as the Campus Race to Zero Waste and Energy Smackdown, that present sustainability efforts in an engaging way to the general public.

Leigh Miller ’22 is member of the Cornell compost club, and helps to provide access to composting, raising awareness at various events, and organizing carpools for people to drop off their compost. The Beyond Waste Prom was one such event that provided composting options for food scraps.

“We’ve been excited about this event for a while,” Miller said.

Danielle Bucci ’23, one of the organizers working for the CSO, expressed hope that the event could promote more sustainable future events and functions.

“We want them to be  as minimal waste as possible, and to spread awareness for sustainability culture on campus,” Bucci said. “The idea behind this event was to show that an event like this can be completely sustainable and plant based and try to get people who maybe might not know that much about sustainability to come, and I think it turned out really well.”