Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Caps and Gowns Go Green

The season of graduates has presented itself upon us as quickly as the weather has warmed up. Educated students worldwide wear caps and gowns to display their recent accomplishments. Graduation ceremonies last a mere two hours where the gown is then taken off and thrown away to contribute to the already overfilled landfills. A clothing company titled Oak Hall Cap and Gown has decided to make a difference in the way caps and gowns are treated. A couple years ago a line was released calledGreenWeaver, which spins up caps, gowns, and other graduate accessories out of molten plastic pellets. In 2011, they are finally gaining popularity and are being used at about 5% of colleges and universities. These caps and gowns are able to be recycled over and over into new ones for the following classes. Designated recycling bins are placed around the ceremonial area for the graduates to dispose of their gowns after their processional march.

The rising popularity of these gowns reminds everyone attending the graduation that it is no longer a fad or trend to go green, but a necessity. The simple act of buying these gowns lets everyone know that it is easy, just as comfortable, and less expensive to wear something recycled. Some other famous graduate companies, such as Josten’s, started making a wood-fibered gown that decomposes in soil. Wear this one and then toss it in your compost pile, how convenient and eco-friendly.

Green fashion is on the rise. A few weeks ago I posted an article on clothes made from Kombucha, and now ones made from recycled water bottles and wood. Of course there are plenty of other green options out there such as hemp, organic cottons, and flax. Or you could always recycle your own clothing with a little help from a sewing machine and scissors. The hot weather has reached us and cutting old jeans into shorts is not a thing of the past. If you don’t like the cut-off look, make a simple hem line with a needle and thread. Add on some buttons or a brightly colored stitch for your own touch of style. If sewing is not up your alley, donate your old clothes to a Goodwill, thrift store, or Buffalo Exchange, and get a discount on their used selection.

Warmer weather means bikini season. Recycled water bottles have not only made their way onto the arms of graduates, but on the bodies of Victoria Secret models. Victoria’s has released a line of swimwear made from recycled polyester and spandex. The original green bikini maker though is Aaron Chang, who has an entire line of bikinis and wraps made from recycled plastic. Mr. Chang is known for being a legendary surfer and green artist, with an art gallery in San Diego, California.

Recycled clothing has been around for a long time, but is just now becoming the trend. More companies are beginning to offer organic options, with a slightly higher price tag. The thing that annoys me is that if they recycled something, shouldn't it be less expensive than buying new? I mean, if a company is taking the time to be eco-conscious shouldn't they spread the savings down to the buyer? They should inspire more people to buy organic or recycled with a smaller price tag. A reason I don’t reach for the organic cotton t-shirt is because it is twice the price. I understand organic farming requires far more work, but recycled clothing should definitely be cheaper than brand new. It is hard to get consumers to buy in on the whole green movement, especially if it means higher costs. I remember when I started to “be green” I did it because it saved me money. Going to the local farmers market was cheaper than buying organic produce in the stores and saved me gas because I could walk. Shopping at thrift stores was being frugal and green. Using less water and electricity saved me money and the environment. Now companies are using the rising trend against us, which should not be a trend at all but a way of life. Seventh Generation paper towels are ridiculously expensive, spurring me to buy dish cloths instead. Are they expensive on purpose to make you realize you shouldn't be buying paper at all, but using washable fabrics? Earth friendly soaps are a few dollars more and are derived from plants. Are chemicals actually cheaper to produce soaps than deriving them from coconuts? I guess that will be my next question on GreenAnswers.

Some companies reduce the price for going green, such as the graduate gown makers. The recycled water bottle ones are $2 cheaper, not much but still making an effort to spread the idea. Thrift stores are always a gold mine, so try your best to visit one when in need of a new outfit. Save tons of cash and the environment at the same time. In a final note, beware of the companies that are exploiting the cause of going green and contribute to the ones that benefit you and the planet.

Photo credit:flickr.com/photos/kbriya2_3shi8h/5782560399/sizes/s/in/photostream/

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