Caps and Gowns Made From Recycled Plastic

University of Rochester senior Liesel Schwarz '11, is interviewed at the campus bookstore by Channel 8 while modeling the gown. (photo by J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester)

Since this story has made some recent local headlines, you have probably heard that this year graduation will be a little bit greener at the University of Rochester. But it’s not the outdoor recycling containers or the use of electric gem cars to help transport people during the ceremony that is particularly newsworthy this year. Instead, take a look at what the graduates are wearing. That’s right, the class of 2011 will be donning caps and gowns that are made out of 100% recycled content.

To be more specific, the fabric in the attire is spun from molten plastic pellets that come from plastic bottles. With each gown taking about 23 bottles to make, and more than 1500 graduates, that’s 34,500 bottles that used for this purpose! What’s even better is that after the ceremony, students don’t have to let their caps & gowns sit in the closet for several years to come. Instead, they can return the regalia to be recycled into future gowns. Making the choice to purchase these new green gowns falls right in line with the University’s vision for sustainability as an educational and research institution.

But, we are not the only University choosing eco-friendly gowns. This year the graduating classes of Florida International University and UNC Chapel Hill will also be wearing them. The gowns are manufactured by Oak Hall Cap & Gown. Oak Hall first introduced its GreenWeaver line in 2009. But the line didn’t come to be without some trial and error. After experimenting with a bamboo and polyester mix, the company decided to use the recycled plastic fabric instead. After finding out that similar fabric is manufactured in Asia, Oak Hill found a way to have this line made in Virginia to further align with the ideals of sustainability.

Now let’s just hope that back here in Rochester the weather brings a warm and sunny for commencement! Best wishes to the class of 2011!

See the University’s press release.

One Reply to “Caps and Gowns Made From Recycled Plastic”

  1. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday.
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