RIC reaches higher degree of green with new line of commencement caps and gowns  

Michelle Mare of the Campus Store stands next to a mannequin who is modeling the new "green" commencement cap and gown.
The 2012 commencement season marks the beginning of “green” caps and gowns at Rhode Island College. While the outfits themselves will still be in traditional black, they will now be made from 100 percent recycled materials.

The new gowns are made with GreenWeaver, an environmentally friendly fabric consisting solely of recycled plastic bottles. The bag and box in which the gown is shipped are made of recycled material as well. The product is produced by Oak Hall Cap & Gown.

According to those who have worn it, the GreenWeaver material breathes well and has a nice texture that is comfortable to wear. With these new gowns, the heavier, warmer polyester might permanently become a thing of the past.

When a spokesperson from Balfour, who represents the makers of Greanweaver, contacted Michelle Mare, assistant manager of the RIC Campus Store, she thought they would be a great replacement for the standard polyester gowns.

“What better way to support Rhode Island College’s green initiative than to have our graduating students contribute to the effort to go green on campus?” asked Mare.

With an average of 23 plastic bottles used per gown, nine million plastic bottles have been saved from landfills in the making of GreenWeaver gowns. And recycling plastic bottles isn’t the only way these gowns are green. CO2 gas emissions are reduced by over 54 percent by using thermal recycled energy instead of petroleum, which also saves over 52 percent of energy use.

Students might feel concerned that with all the work going into creating the regalia that it might cost more. However, pricing will be similar to last year’s cost, with baccalaureate cap, gown, hood and tassel costing $45.50, and the master’s or CAGS cap, gown, hood and tassel costing $48.50.

“Our graduates are now impacting the environmentally friendly effort we are striving to achieve,” said Patricia Nolin, special assistant to the president and coordinator of the college’s commencements.

Nursing students were the first at RIC to wear these gowns, when they donned them for the pinning ceremony in January.

Nursing graduate Amy Shaw was excited to know that the gowns were recycled. She said the gowns were “comfortable” and hadn’t noticed any difference in quality compared to the old gowns.

Students aren’t the only ones happy with the change. RIC President Nancy Carriulo is also a booster of this green effort.

“I am so pleased and proud that this year’s graduation gowns will be made of recycled materials,” she said. “Our students have shown great support for RIC’s efforts to be greener. Their selection of graduation gowns is an example.”

Students will also have an opportunity to help sustainability efforts by donating their gowns to be recycled into carpets. Collection boxes will be available in the Campus Store after commencement.

OakHall will donate 25 cents to the Green Team here at RIC, and the Campus Store will match that donation as well for every “green” gown that is returned.

The GreenWeaver gown is currently on display in the Campus Store and will be available for purchase at Grad fest on April 4.