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UW Commencement 2012 Goes Green
The UW implements green gowns at commencement.
By Cherilyn Winkler

GraduationThe UW Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability office (ESS) raised awareness this quarter of the University’s continued effort to be mindful of sustainability. This year's commencement featured caps and gowns made from 100 percent, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. The product is called GreenWeaver™ and is made from fabric spun from molten plastic pellets. On average each gown is made from 23 bottles.

The inspiration behind this green product came from the millions of plastic bottles that are wasted in landfills each day. Different kinds of plastic can degrade at different rates, but the average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years. By reengineering this waste, the GreenWeaver™ product reduces the impact these plastic bottles have on the environment.

To date, 9 million plastic bottles have been reclaimed from landfills to produce GreenWeaver™ products. Carbon dioxide gas emissions are also reduced by more than 54% in the process of manufacturing fabric from plastic versus traditional polyester.

Following the commencement ceremonies, students who did not wish to keep their gowns had the ability to place them in collection boxes to be recycled into new products.

Recycled GownsThe implementation of these eco-friendly caps and gowns serves as a wonderful counterpart to this year’s choice of commencement speaker, Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.