Commencement gowns made from recycled plastics
Twenty-three. That is approximately the number of plastic bottles used to make each commencement gown. In fact, the only parts of the regalia not currently made from recycled materials are the zipper and the tack that holds the cap button in place.
When asked what she thought of the gowns being made from plastic, Meredith Bayer, junior responded “I didn’t know they were made out of plastic bottles. That’s great! I hope they will still do that when I graduate.”
The recycled regalia have the same look and feel of gowns used in ceremonies prior to August 2011, when the apparel debuted. “These gowns certainly show our commitment to utilizing sustainable products and sustainable purchasing.” commented Elaine Durr, Director of Sustainability.
The apparel is manufactured by Virginia-based Oak Hall Cap & Gown. According to their website, over 15 million plastic bottles have been repurposed and kept out of landfills to make the “GreenWeaver” regalia. To make the robes, recycled plastic bottles are processed to remove impurities such as labels and caps.
Bottles are then “chopped” into fragments, which are melted and solidified into pellets. Those pellets are melted yet again and extruded into filament yarn. The yarn is woven, dyed and finished. Plus, at participating institutions, GreenWeaver offers a take back program in which returned gowns are recycled.
Senior Lauren Hoerr commented, “Throughout my time here I’ve been able to see how involved Elon is in sustainability initiatives, and as students participate in their final collegiate activity, it is great that sustainability is something that will be in the forefront of everyone’s minds.”