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06/09/2011 07:00:00

Greening the Gowns

This year, the graduation regalia sported by Caltech grads had a new look: plastic. The caps and gowns were produced from a trademarked material called GreenWeaver, made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottle pellets.

According to the manufacturer, each gown removes an average of 23 plastic bottles from landfills, and CO2 emissions are reduced by 54.6% when fabric is manufactured from plastic instead of virgin polyester. The tagless gowns also feature labels stamped with soy ink.

Why recycled gowns? "We're always looking at how the bookstore can do its part in the areas of recycling and sustainability," says Caltech bookstore buyer Karyn Seixas. The gowns may be "plastic," but the material, Seixas says, is actually softer than the traditional polyester of prior years' gowns, "and the fabric breathes better, thus keeping the students a little cooler and more comfortable, she says. "We are also giving students the option of recycling their gown by putting it in the GreenWeaver recycling bins that will be located at the bookstore after the commencement ceremony."

Written by Kathy Svitil