Maybe you’ve seen (or smelled) the mess left behind after a night on Lake Place or High Street. The broken plastic cups, small puddles of half evaporated alcohol on the pavement, and occasional scattered earrings, no longer attached to an ear or with their pair.
But the garbage heaps that these debaucherous nights leave behind go beyond the red solo cups obscuring the sticky floors beneath. A certain branch of the ‘fast fashion’ industry devotes itself to the game of weekly dress-up students at schools like Yale play for an array of themed parties. We might be able to forget about the mess we leave behind when we go home from the frats, but what about the cowboy hats and sparkly tights that lurk under our beds — the socialite’s skeleton in the closet?
Georgie Dooley TC ‘23 and Charlotte Fennell BF ‘23 have started a small-scale solution for this large-scale problem. As members of Women’s Crew, the teammates have known each other since the beginning of their first year, but over the summer, their friendship reached a new level: the co-parenthood of a small, Instagram-based, exchange business.
Charlotte, who has always had an interest in environmentalism, first presented the idea: a rent-the-runway style theme clothing exchange service. As busy senior athletes, they knew the idea would remain undeveloped if they didn’t commit immediately. They “couldn’t go back”, recalled Georgie. After about half an hour, they not only were both committed to the plan, but had already settled on the Instagram handle.
Their username, @yaleecocrew, came with a little influence from their sport, but to Georgie and Charlotte, “crew” means so much more than just the sport: it incorporates belonging, community, and “the presence of a common goal.” Here the goal did not involve speedy rowing, but to create more eco-friendly practices for social life on campus.
With a goal, a dream, and an Instagram handle, Georgie and Charlotte moved onto the next hurdle: an inventory. They didn’t want to buy, they knew that would defeat the goal of sustainability. However, with some donations from their teammates on the women’s crew team and one Goodwill trip later, they had more than enough to get started. A couple weeks later, they were in business.
So far, popular items include pearls and headbands, necessary accessories for last week’s 1920s Hollywood themed party. But how do you rent? The link to their inventory is in their Instagram bio, @yaleecocrew, and from there, you can DM them to arrange a pick—up or dropoff. They’re also working on plans to set up shop every Friday on Cross Campus. After you have decided what to rent, pay a small fee between $1 and $2, and a slightly larger deposit, which will be returned once the costume is returned. Venmo and cash are both accepted. Once the costume has been worn and loved, message them again to return. They’re also planning to set up a drop off time, where they’ll be stationed at a central location on campus.
The project, both Georgie and Charlotte emphasized, is not focused on the money, but on striking a balance between frivolity and renewability. “The real goal,” Georgie described, “is to keep fun themes in parties, but dress more sustainably.” They encourage party-goers to focus on what they already have, get creative with accessories, and borrow from friends—even if it means losing a customer.
Georgie and Charlotte know that sustainability for Yale’s social scene has a long way to go. Ideally, social spaces would be committing to ditching red solo cups for biodegradable cups. However, they know that many of these social spaces are also wary about the steep cost of these steps towards eco-friendliness. People don’t want to pay more for sustainability, Georgie posited; Ecocrew’s biggest claim is that you pay less for sustainability.