This year's commencement at Quinnipiac University features eco-friendly graduation gowns made of completely recycled materials. The gowns and caps that graduates will wear are made of fully recycled materials with the exceptions being the cap's tassel and button and the gown's zipper.
Many colleges across the nation are considering measures such as eco-friendly graduation gowns to make commencement greener. Though such measures will alter some traditional features of commencement, universities and colleges are becoming more aware of their responsibility to the environment. Reducing the environmental impact college commencements have been on the agendas of eco-conscious institutions for many years. Previous measures such as decreasing electricity use or printing graduation materials on recycled paper have become popular in recent years, and now schools are expanding their green efforts to include the traditional graduation apparel.
These new products, such as those that will be used in the commencement celebration at Quinnipiac, range from disposable gowns that decompose in soil to gowns made from recyclable materials such as plastic bottles that can be reused or recycled easily. Though the materials of these new graduation gowns are different because of their biodegradable nature, the "look and feel" is pretty much indistinguishable from that of the traditional graduation gowns. These "green" gowns may help stretch students' wallets as well as prevent future dust-collecting in thousands of closets.
There are many other eco-savvy options colleges can use to save money as well as do good for the environment. One suggestion is that colleges reuse graduation gowns and caps from past years and instead use eco-friendly dry cleaners in an effort to save money and cause the least amount of harm to the environment. This seems sensible considering the fact that many college students purchasing gowns for commencement will only keep the traditional graduation garb for a few years or so and most likely end up trashing the items. Reusing graduation gowns could be a more sustainable resolution as it reduces the amount of gowns thrown away and filling landfills. Colleges would need to stress the importance of students returning their gowns in order for the recycling of gowns to continue for future commencement ceremonies.
Though it might be slightly different to ask students to reuse graduation gowns or buy slightly more expensive gowns made from recycled plastic bottles, it is encouraging to learn that more environmentally-friendly options are now available in reducing the environmental impact of commencement celebrations.