The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

When the class of 2010 enters Franklin Field in the spring for their commencement ceremony, they will be surrounded by about 57,500 recycled plastic bottles - or at least caps and gowns made from them.

As part of the Climate Action Plan - the long-range strategy to reduce Penn's carbon footprint - Business Services has entered into an agreement with Oak Hall Cap and Gown, manufacturers of academic apparel, which will be supplying graduating seniors with gowns and caps from its new GreenWeaver line.

Each gown is made up of about 23 plastic bottles, with the fabric being spun from molten plastic pellets.

"Penn is extremely committed to environmental sustainability," said Marie Witt, vice president of Business Services. "Having our seniors graduate wearing gowns made entirely from recycled materials is the best way to end a year focused on sustainabilty."

Oak Hall Cap and Gown services over 1,600 colleges and universities and has supplied Penn with graduation apparel in the past.

The company's gowns are supposed to be indistinguishable from those made from regular polyester, according to Oak Hall's Web site.

"What everyone needs to know is that we're not sacrificing quality for sustainability here," said Christopher Bradie, Business Services associate vice president. "No one subjected to the 'taste test' has been able to pick out the GreenWeaver gown from a polyester gown, and in most cases [consumers] prefer the GreenWeaver gown as being the softer and more comfortable of the two choices."

He added that students will soon have the opportunity to take the 'taste test' themselves.

For every gown purchased, Oak Hall will make a contribution to Penn's Green Fund, the source of funding for the University's sustainability initiatives.

The agreement with Oak Hall is one of the latest features of Penn's efforts to reduce the University's carbon footprint.

Oak Hall's Web site also details a range of statistics that demonstrate how purchasing a GreenWeaver gown can contribute to environmental sustainability. For example, if 100,000 students wear GreenWeaver gowns at their graduation, approximately 2.3 million bottles will be kept out of landfills, and 60 million plastic bottles go into U.S. landfills every day.

"College students and campuses are at the forefront of environmental conscience and green habits," said Joseph D'Angelo, executive vice president of Oak Hall, in a statement in April.

"When we started seeing such campus trends as biodegradable utensils, we felt developing an environmentally friendly gown was the right thing to do for students, colleges and universities and our planet," said D'Angelo.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.