Northwestern College 2012 graduates Keana Adams and Kelly Murphy are wearing eco-friendly caps and gowns made from plastic bottles. The College will again feature eco-friendly regalia at its 2013 ceremony as part of the College’s efforts toward sustainability and its mission to go green.
Northwestern College President Lawrence Schumacher announced that this year’s graduates will again wear eco-friendly caps and gowns made from plastic bottles in support of the College’s efforts toward sustainability and its mission to go green! It is expected that approximately 275 graduates will participate in the commencement ceremony scheduled on June 28 at the Arie Crown Theater at McCormick Place in Chicago, each donning the ecologically friendly regalia. The gowns look and feel the same as traditionally made caps and gowns, yet are softer to the touch and more breathable than traditional polyester fabric.
This will be the second year Northwestern College will utilize Oak Hall Cap & Gown’s GreenWeaverTM line of regalia. The College utilized these eco-friendly caps and gowns during the 2012 commencement ceremony, and they were well-received by the graduates and staff who wore them. Graduates commented that they were comfortable, lighter weight, and less itchy than the typical graduation gown. According to staff wearing them, the eco-friendly gowns kept them much cooler during the mid-June ceremony than in year’s past.
The yarn for the GreenWeaverTM gowns is produced using 100% post-consumer plastic bottles, with each gown being made from on average 23 plastic bottles. Millions of plastic bottles go into landfills daily, remaining there for generations, thus, by taking those bottles and instead reengineering them into a usable product – such as graduation regalia - space is freed up in landfills, thereby reducing our carbon footprint. Consequently, Northwestern College’s use of “green’ gowns this year will help to remove over 6,300 water bottles from landfills. Furthermore, the eco-friendly regalia will be turned in after the ceremony to be recycled into new fabric.
In addition to the removal of the plastic bottles from landfills, the GreenWeaverTM methodology reduces CO2 gas emissions by 54.6% in the process of manufacturing fabric from plastic verses virgin polyester, and petroleum usage is reduced by over 52% by utilizing thermal recycled energy. The gowns cost nearly the same amount as traditionally made caps and gowns purchased in prior years, making the decision to “go green” a no-brainer for Northwestern College.
According to Oak Hall, the process of making the eco-friendly fabric for the gowns begins first by taking recycled plastic bottles and processing them to remove impurities such as labels and caps. The bottles are eventually melted down and subsequently solidified into uniform pellets called “chips”. These chips are melted again and extruded into continuous filaments of yarn, which is woven, dyed and then finished.
“We are committed to increasing Northwestern College’s sustainability,” commented President Schumacher. “We will continue to do all that we can to both reduce Northwestern College’s own carbon footprint as well as instill ecological compassion into our student body. It is our hope that our students will carry on this commitment after they leave Northwestern College, doing all that they can to sustain our environment well into their futures.”