When graduation coordinator Lisa Walker first learned about recycled graduation regalia at a conference for college commencement officers in 2011, it was a no-brainer: of course she needed to make this option available to UW Bothell graduates. With a commitment to environmental and human sustainability as a signature initiative of the campus vision, the entire campus community has joined in efforts to reduce waste, promote sustainable practices, and engage in environmental education.
Made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, the GreenWeaver gowns reuse an average of 23 bottles each. With approximately 850 Bothell graduates wearing the gowns this year, nearly 20,000 bottles will be diverted or removed from landfills. After commencement, graduates will have the option to keep their regalia as a souvenir or recycle it in bins provided at the ceremony, to be reprocessed yet again into a new product.
“The university is always looking for ways to be more sustainable,” Walker notes, adding that “since the gowns we were using were single-use, eventually ending up in landfills, we figured why not go with gowns that are recyclable, and give the students the option to keep or recycle them.”
While the GreenWeaver regalia costs slightly more than traditional single-use caps and gowns, and require purchase rather than rental, many UW Bothell grads are enthusiastic about another opportunity to go green. As Aaron Huston, president of the UW Bothell Sustainability Organization, says, "It is promising to see UW Bothell [students] take the initiative to lessen their ecological footprint…As a senior graduating this year, I am proud to be a Husky and I am proud to wear my graduation gown made from recycled bottles."
All three UW campuses will be using the GreenWeaver regalia this year for bachelor’s and master’s degree students at their respective commencement exercises.
UW Bothell students, faculty and staff are regional leaders in environmental awareness, with a deep understanding of sustainability as critical to our shared global future and central to the values, vision and economic interests of our students, state and region. The campus has a long list of green practices that proudly support these interests.