Commencement gowns reflect Penn State's commitment to green efforts

University Park, Pa. – For the first time, Penn State’s class of 2010 will be wearing green caps and gowns to commencement events. The commencement attire will remain the color blue, but they will be environmentally friendly as well. 

“Penn State looks at all the products used by the University and at its associated functions and, as a matter of practice, tries to find the most environmentally friendly approach,” said Dan Sieminski, associate vice president for finance and business. “The 'green' gown is made of acetate fabric that decomposes in soil within a year and the sustainable approach by which it's produced are both benefits over the current gowns. This change is just another step we can take to help lessen our impact on the environment.”

The caps and gowns -- created by Jostens, the company from which Penn State purchases their commencement wear -- are made of a wood-based fabric sourced exclusively from renewable, managed forests. The fabric was developed using a material that is proven to decompose in soil in one year, and the gown's zipper is made from 100 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The gowns also come in earth-friendly packaging.

“It seems that students today consider their gowns as something else to haul around rather than as a keepsake, so they throw them away," said Sieminski. "It is often said that today we all live in a throwaway society, so with that in mind, there’s a solid value in not having as many as 10,000 commencement gowns go in the landfill that will still be there 1,000 years from now.”

All of Penn State’s graduates attending associate, baccalaureate and graduate degree ceremonies will be able to wear the eco-friendly gowns starting in spring 2010.

Last Updated November 18, 2010