Graduation at Roosevelt University is getting a new look thanks to Roosevelt University Registrar Sheila Coffin and her graduation team. The recycled caps and gowns are made from plastic bottles and they will be worn for the first time ever by more than 750 undergraduates and graduate students during the Spring Commencement at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University.
Geo Mendez, assistant manager of the Roosevelt University Bookstore, handles a spool of thread made from ground-up plastic bottles. Two jars filled with chunks of the material also are part of a bookstore table display about the new graduation materials.
It is one small part of the University’s mission to conserve resources and promote sustainability.
“It’s something that we wanted to do and that we knew we should be doing,” said the University’s associate registrar Laurel Tryforos of the new “green” gowns that are made from recycled water bottles.
Manufactured by Oak Hall Cap and Gown Service, each recycled gown is made from 21 water bottles that are ground into a powdery substance that is made into a thread that is woven into fabric, which is then dyed black.
“There is a lot of energy involved in the cap-and-gown business,” said Cary Campbell, regional manager for Balfour, which is the manufacturer’s representative.
When universities rent graduation gowns, transportation, cleaning and storage costs typically are a part of the cost. However, in this case existing waste is being conserved and reused in a responsible way.
“There are graduations twice a year at Roosevelt. The registrar’s office made the decision to do its part by helping the environment each time we have these ceremonies,” said Sara Willis, who is Roosevelt’s graduation coordinator.
Graduates have the option of turning their recycled caps and gowns back to the University for further recycling and resale.