Graduates To Wear Gowns Made of Recycled Plastic

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.


AM A.3 years ago

This isn't "green" - "Green" is reusing the same gowns from year to year as we used to.

Amber M.
Amber Beasley5 years ago

that's awesome!

Klaus P.
Klaus Peters5 years ago

Maybe in Australia we are smarter, when my daughter graduated we hired the gown like everybody else. Worn for about 1 hour at graduation it will last for many years. What is the big deal, Florida. It is the certificate and the qualification that matters. As for the poll, I didn't bother, it was useless. Sorry.

Maureen R.
R R.5 years ago

My views are that we are being reared to be green washers. Plastic is plastic. Even if we are making fabrics from plastics, the material will yes one day end up in a landfill where the plastic will add itself to the heap. How long to decompose? I really don't know, but plastic resists, this we know, and not just for 5 or 10 years before breaking down. My other issue is this. Plastic is made with phthlates and BPA bisphenol A, which are known to be a health risk. BPA is a known endocrine system disruptor, and research shows it is linked with breast and prostrate cancer, and other diseases as well. Mice studies show that when a pregnant mouse is exposed to tiny amts of BPA, big changes can occur with the depends on the time of the fetal development. BPA can trigger changes in DNA. So, a fetus exposed to bpa during crucial period of development may be affected...once born, perhaps 4 or 5 decades later. There's no way to do a Cause-Effect thing w hen it comes to BPA. We are not scientists and should not applaud the creations of companies who haven't been responsible for the ingredients they use to make their products. So, when it comes to graduation gowns, make them with a natural fiber, and rent them out. Clean them, store them, rent them out. Forget plastic clothing. When I researched Hanes new sweats made with plastics, they didn't answer my inquiry re: whether BPA was removed from material before making the sweats. They did say their clothing was safe.

adriana j.
adriana j.5 years ago

Great news! These things are going to be mandatory in the future, I think, and a good thing!!

Jackie T.
Past Member 5 years ago

That's excellent. And it's also great to know that Florida University is striving to be a leader in sustainability. This is a new generation coming up who I think will care more about the planet than ours, that's for sure. Any parents with kids going to Florida University are great parents in my eyes.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.5 years ago


John S.
Past Member 5 years ago

So are these gowns then thrown out? The only think you want to keep are the tassels, maybe the hat (though unlikely). There are rental companies so you don't actually have to buy them. Maybe if it was about regular clothes I could get excited, this is just marketing 101.

John S.
Past Member 5 years ago

Do students then trow them out after-wards. I think the only thing you might want is the hat. There are rental companies so you don't have to buy them.

Sydney R.
Sydney R.5 years ago