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    Finding the Perfect Prom Dress -- for FREERecycle the Dress Event 2014
    by Julie Plummer, Area 5

    On a cold Saturday morning in February, the Muscatine IA Recycling Center and Transfer Station becomes host to dozens of teenage girls on a quest.  The girls excitedly search through racks of fashionable, elegant dresses, on a hunt for the perfect prom dress.  Now in its third year, the Muscatine Solid Waste Agency’s Recycle the Dress event is a huge success!  The event relies on donations of dresses from community members to provide prom-goers with free dresses and accessories for that special night.  This year, girls had over 200 dresses to choose from, and after the first morning of the event, over 90 dresses had been selected.  “We were talking about prom costs and thought – why would people want to spend all that money?” says Muscatine Solid Waste Manager Laura Liegois who came up with the idea for the event.  “This is just another form of reuse and recycling.  Yes, we could have put a small price on the dresses and given that money as a donation to a worthy cause, but instead, we decided to use the event as an educational opportunity to show the value of reuse”.  

    Donated dressesIowa Waste Exchange Area 5 Resource Specialist Julie Plummer has played a small role in the event each year, by spreading the word to prom dress seekers, collecting and delivering dresses from community members to the transfer station, and even helping to display dresses and talk about the benefits of reuse during a program on Muscatine’s local public television station.  While not diverting tons of material from the landfill, Julie considers the project very worthwhile.  “This project showcases the benefits of reuse in a very tangible way to both parents and their children, and also saves them a couple hundred dollars” says Julie.  “The barely-worn dresses would otherwise just hang in someone’s closet for years.  And the girls are so happy to find their special dress”!

    In 2013, Recycle the Dress was recognized by the Iowa Society of Solid Waste Operators with the Innovative Recycling Project Award.

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