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Greening graduation: Recycled diplomas and plastic-bottle-based gowns

June 10, 2011 |  5:31 pm


It’s graduation season, which for many schools means that it’s also prime time to show off their dedication to sustainability.

In New York, The New School decorated with local and seasonal flowers, while Pace University printed its programs on recycled paper with soy ink.

Johns Hopkins University in Maryland gave out water in biodegradable bottles. Boston University used compostable or recyclable tableware.

Unity College in Maine sent out online invitations, printed its diplomas on recycled paper and handed out just one recycled paper or alternative-fiber program to each family and graduate. The school also used fluorescent lighting in its gym powered by electricity from renewable sources and served guests local organic foods.

But what all the institutions -- and a growing number of schools around the country -- have in common is their fashion sense.

Graduation gowns at the New School were made from a fabric combining recycled polyester and plastic. Pace allowed students to rent their garb to reduce waste. Boston, Johns Hopkins and Unity all used regalia made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

Caltech did the same thing at its commencement ceremony Friday, using caps and gowns from a Virginia company called Oak Hall.

So is this campus greenwashing or an educational green revolution? Read more in the Times’ Business section.


Stepping out on the recycled red carpet

Yes, even clothes can be recycled

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Graduates at Caltech wait in line for commencement to begin in their caps and gowns made from recycled bottles. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times