In an innovative new sustainability measure, the 4500 graduates of Florida International University will receive their diplomas while wearing caps and gowns made entirely of recycled plastic.
“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. “These gowns truly make us worlds ahead on our continued commitment to be an environmentally conscious university.”
Environmental activism has been a long-standing commitment at FIU. Last year, an 18-member committee was appointed to examine how the university can become more sustainable. According to a press release related to this committee, the university has already demonstrated its passion for environmental innovation with a bio-diesel-powered bus fleet, low-flow showerheads for the dorms, and an aggressive recycling program.
The graduation gowns will be made from a fabric spun from plastic bottles, which apparently feels like traditional gown materials. There is no word on whether the gowns will be more expensive because they are recycled, but I assume that because it hasn’t been an issue in the coverage, ths isn’t an issue for the students.
As a college senior who will also be graduating this spring (but not in a recycled gown), I applaud FIU’s progressive steps toward sustainability. It may seem like a small move, but every continuing commitment to environmentalism strengthens the university’s overall ability to reduce its environmental footprint. And it seems especially appropriate to have recycled graduation gowns, since they’re an article of clothing that really can be worn only once or twice during most people’s lives.
Photo from Flickr.