Recycling is nothing new- it’s actually turning into quite the trend (wow…I’m actually trendy for once?).
Many of us have diligently been separating paper, glass and plastic for years. Plus, new products are being developed each day that are ‘environmentally friendly’. From plastic bottles that use less plastic to water “bobbles”, companies are trying to do their part to save planet earth.
But some companies are producing “green” versions of goods you may have never thought to be hazardous to the environment– like your cap and gown.
Your cap and gown is something you wear once. And when the special day is over, these garments are left to collect dust in the back of a closet– or end up in the trash.
Most graduation gowns are made from polyester, which has a large carbon footprint. Made from petroleum, polyester production requires energy, large amounts of crude oil and the process releases harmful emissions into the atmosphere, according to Environmental Health Perspectives (ehp). EHP also states “volatile monomers, solvents, and other by-products of polyester production are emitted in the wastewater from polyester manufacturing plants.” Experts say when polyester makes its way to landfills, it can take decades to decompose.
We find all of this quite depressing– and apparently, so did Florida International University (FIU).
FIU is creating change and doing good this spring when each of their nearly 4,500 graduates wear a cap and gown made completely from recycled plastic bottles – the “GreenWeaver” made from 23 bottles per gown. The gowns do not have tags, rather labels which are printed with ink made from soy, according to the university.
Typically, GreenWeaver caps and gowns, manufactured by Oak Hall Cap & Gown, are available in black only; however the company agreed to accommodate the traditional blue FIU uses for undergraduate ceremonies, the university reported.
According to Oak Hall’s website, “If 100,000 students wore GreenWeaver gowns at their graduation, approximately 2.3 MILLION plastic Bottles would be kept out of landfills.” And as of March 1, 2010, 3.5 Million plastic bottles were reclaimed from landfills to make GreenWeaver gowns.
Now, that’s an impact.
So, before you banish your regalia to the depths of your closet, or to the trash, you may want to think about where that gown came from and where it may be going.