University of Rochester

University of Rochester Introduces Cap and Gown Made of Recycled Plastic Bottles

March 18, 2011

University of Rochester students graduating this May will be dressed in plastic bottles, but you probably won't notice. The caps and gowns that bachelor's and master's degree candidates will be wearing are made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.

The fabric used to make these gowns is spun from molten plastic pellets. It takes an average of 23 bottles to make each gown. That means that with more than 1,500 gowns sold at the University's bookstores each graduation season, 34,500 bottles will be repurposed to create the regalia.

This shift to the environmentally friendly regalia was a joint decision made by the conference and events office and the bookstores.

"We feel these gowns fit in with the University's 'green' mission," said Erica Strawbridge, conference coordinator for conference and events. "We think the students will appreciate this change."

"We consistently hear from students that they prefer eco-friendly products. We're very excited to be introducing these gowns," said Maria Ferrante, general manager of the bookstores. "Not only are they better for the environment, but the fabric actually feels softer and more comfortable than what we've used for previous commencement ceremonies."

Other features of the regalia include:

  • Size labels stamped with soy ink.
  • The plastic bags used to store the caps and gowns are made from recycled plastic.
  • The shipping cartons are produced from recycled cardboard.
  • If students don't want to keep their gowns after commencement, they can drop them off at the bookstore to be recycled into new fabric.
  • They are softer to the touch and more breathable than traditional polyester fabric.

The gowns are made by Oak Hall Cap & Gown and are virtually indistinguishable in color and fit from the traditional polyester material. They will be available for purchase at the campus bookstores from March 25th through commencement.