UT Grad Gowns Go Green

In the time-honored tradition of Commencement, there will be something revolutionary this year: Longhorn grads will walk across the stage wearing plastic water bottles.

Don’t worry — they’re not transparent. These gowns will look (and even cost) just like usual black robes. But instead of synthetic, they’ll be sustainable.

UT ordered 6,300 of the special new gowns, making it the largest university in the country to close the year in such a eco-conscious way.

The University Co-op made the change thanks to the initiative of its graduation and online director, Kristen Hilbert, BS ’04.

Perusing vendor Oak Hall’s website last year, Hilbert noticed a teaser about commencement attire made entirely from recycled bottles, and she got working right away to see if the company could supply an extra-large order.

Often, green products are more expensive than conventionally made ones, but Hilbert negotiated the price down because the order was so big. This year’s undergraduate gowns with stoles are $50, up just $5 from last year’s.

The results are an environmental feel-good. “Just this spring season,” she says, “we’ll be keeping 150,000 water bottles out of the landfill.”

What’s more, Hilbert swears the new robes are higher quality than the polyester iterations of years past — more matte, more breathable, and more wrinkle-resistant. She’s had an old gown and a new one hanging in a display window for weeks, and while the new one drapes nicely, the old one is still rumpled.

The new gowns are recyclable, too. Grads can drop them off during Commencement weekend at the Co-op for 20 percent off a purchase.

Want to hear more about environmental initiatives at UT — including a potential solar-powered Jumbotron? The Alcalde will have that and more in our July/August issue, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, congratulations on graduating, Horns! You’ll be finishing college in the earth-friendly style of the times.


1 Comment

Post a Comment