When students at Florida International University (FIU) walk across the commencement stage to receive their diplomas this year, their graduation gowns will be green. No, FIU has not changed its blue and gold school colors. It changed its graduation gowns, which are now made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
Working in concert with the University in its efforts to incorporate more eco-friendly practices on campus, the Barnes & Noble College FIU Bookstore offered the eco-friendly gowns to nearly 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students who will be graduating this spring. FIU will become the first school in the Florida State University System to use the sustainable gowns for graduation.
“This is an innovative way to show our commitment to sustainability and make an impact given the size of our graduating classes,” said Provost Douglas Wartzok in FIU Campus News. “Since we are also the most energy efficient university in the State University System, these gowns truly make us worlds ahead on our continued commitment to be an environmentally conscious university.”
Manufactured by the Virginia-based Oak Hall Cap & Gown company, the material used to make the graduation gowns is called GreenWeaver and is made from a fabric spun from molten plastic pellets. Each gown is made from an average of 23 plastic bottles and feels like traditional fabric.
“These gowns actually feel softer than the gowns we used to order,” said Meaghan Connelly, FIU bookstore manager. “There has been a big push for sustainability on our campus in recent years and we wanted to be the first in the state system to use these gowns, so we are very excited.”
The manufacturer agreed to deviate from their standard black and created blue — FIU’s school color — graduation gowns for the university. Students purchased their caps and gowns during the Grad Send-Off program at the Barnes & Noble FIU Bookstore in March for their graduation in May.
- Made from 100% post-consumer plastic, it takes an average of 23 bottles to make one gown.
- CO2 gas emissions are reduced by over 54% in the process of manufacturing fabric from plastic versus virgin polyester.
- Students who do not want to keep their gown as a keepsake can place it in a collection box after commencement and those gowns will be recycled.
- For every gown purchased, Oak Hall will make a $0.25 donation to an on-campus sustainability program of the college/bookstore’s choice.