Duke grads to don 'green' caps, gowns

Posted January 19, 2011

— Duke University students will wear caps and gowns made of recycled plastic bottles during graduation ceremonies in May, officials said Wednesday.

“Everyone on campus, it seems, wants to do what they can to be more environmentally responsible,” Jim Wilkerson, director of Duke Stores and the person responsible for outfitting the graduates, said in a statement. “When we were approached with this opportunity to purchase caps and gowns made from recycled materials, and we were satisfied that the quality of the garments would not be compromised, it was an easy decision.”

The caps and gowns will be made of fabric spun from molten plastic pellets, and each set will keep 23 used plastic bottles from winding up in landfills, Wilkerson said.

Duke's supplier has pledged to contribute 25 cents for each "green" gown sold to a campus environmental group designated by the university, he said. The caps and gowns cost about $2 to $3 more than the traditional polyester ones.

Any students who don't want to hold on to their gowns as keepsakes can place them in collection boxes around campus after graduation, and those gowns will be recycled into a new product, most likely filler for pillows, Wilkerson said.

“These gowns will help our graduates literally ‘walk the walk’ for sustainability and, hopefully, encourage them to think about ways they can address environmental issues in their lives beyond Duke,” Tavey McDaniel Capps, Duke’s environmental sustainability director, said in a statement.


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  • grimreaper Jan 21, 2011

    Now coming to a liberally tainted graduation near you...fresh from China...GREEN graduation gowns. Disclaimer: only 10,000 gallons of fuel were used to bring these gowns to your door. Only 5,000 gallons of toxic waste were created and dumped to create and dye your gowns. This is a substantial improvement on the 10,001 gallons of fuel used and 5,001 gallons of waste created in the past...

  • Doctor Dataclerk Jan 20, 2011

    The stupid "feel good" stuff we do is going to be the ruin of us all. Like someone has already said, traditional gowns are cleaned and worn over and over. These will waste all kinds of energy to re-make them into something else. Why not just go with the fig leaf.

  • what the........ Jan 20, 2011

    and don't forget $2 MORE...wear once and recycle. sounds like a money making scheme...

  • ghimmy51 Jan 19, 2011

    Yup and it's SO "green" to transport, melt, re-manufacture and transport again those gowns worn one time.

  • anneonymousone Jan 19, 2011

    Excellent idea, although why a graduation gown can not be washed and worn again by someone else is beyond me.