Nov. 9, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
SRU leads way with 'green' graduation gowns
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. �- Go green, the familiar chant at Slippery Rock University athletic events, will take on new meaning next spring when graduates don commencement gowns made from 100 percent, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
SRU, a pioneer in greening education and promotion, announced today it would use recycled gowns for the spring 2010 commencement. It's believed the University is the first institution in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education to make this commitment to sustainability.
"Our students have adopted numerous green habits. Eco-friendly graduation regalia is the next logical step as our campus continues to move into the forefront of sustainability," said Joe Flynn, manager of the Student Government Association Bookstore.
Candidates receiving bachelor's and master's degrees will wear the GreenWeaver line of regalia by Oak Hall Cap & Gown, a Virginia manufacturer of academic apparel. The gowns, in traditional black, are made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. They are nearly identical to non-recycled fiber. The company said its caps are made with recycled material as well, except for the tack that holds the tassel button in place.
"You can't tell the difference," Flynn said. "If anything, the new gowns are lighter weight and will be cooler."
The gown material is achieved by processing recycled plastic bottles to remove impurities such as labels and caps. The bottles are then chopped into fragments called "flakes." Flakes are melted and solidified into uniform pellets called "chips." Chips are melted and converted to filament yarn, which is woven and dyed.
Oak Hall said the gowns are not hot or stiff. The company engineered the yarn to be soft by increasing the filament count per yarn stand from 36 to 48. The resulting yarn is softer and more breathable. The gowns also have size labels printed with soy ink. Recycled plastic bottles are already used to make sweatshirts and other clothing, the company said, and the result is apparel virtually indistinguishable in color, feel or fit from traditional polyester material.
Oak Hall said every gown worn keeps an average of 23 plastic bottles from winding up in a landfill. With some 60 million plastic bottles going into U.S. landfills every day, the company said regalia made of recycled materials offer colleges and universities a chance to turn trash into keepsakes.
"Graduation from college is one of the most important days in your life," Flynn said. "Our graduates should be proud knowing they are doing the right thing for the environment."
The green gowns are not the first green product to be offered at the bookstore. The bookstore this fall began offering 100 new all natural cleaning and hygiene products and recycled school supplies.
SRU has implemented a number of greening, or sustainability, initiatives in recent years to reduce its environmental impact and save in utility costs. They include a student-led Green Fund program, motion detector on demand lighting in buildings, sleep-mode settings for computers and new residence halls that are LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified.
SRU offers all-natural dining options, numerous recycling programs and a master's degree program in sustainable systems.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.