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USF System Commencement Goes Green

USF students who will walk during University of South Florida Commencement ceremonies will wear sustainable caps and gowns.

Photo by Aimee Blodgett | USF News

By Laura Kneski 
      USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (March 19, 2015) - The University of South Florida System will celebrate its first green Commencement this spring thanks to new environmentally friendly regalia.

USF students who choose to walk during Commencement ceremonies will be wearing GreenWeaver® caps and gowns. Each gown is made from approximately 23 recycled plastic bottles crafted into a matte material that is softer than the gowns from years past. The USF System’s switch will allow for approximately 200,000 plastic bottles to be reused per academic year. Universities that already use the gowns include Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

“What better way to preserve our environment and to have USF also participate with some of these institutions by providing friendly materials to the environment,” Student Body President Jean Cocco said.

According to GreenWeaver®, carbon dioxide emissions from manufacturing plastic into fabric are 54.6 percent less than when using virgin polyester. Using thermal recycled energy during the manufacturing process cuts down on petroleum usage by 52 percent. These alternative methods lessen impact on the heat of the atmosphere.

However, the sustainability aspect isn’t the only change students will see on the stage. USF is implementing a new tradition with color and style, choosing to keep the master’s program attire black while switching the undergraduate caps and gowns to a rich green. Both styles of gown bear USF seals stitched on the gown. In years past, these educational levels of caps and gowns were plain black.

Making the switch was a student-driven initiative. Once Cocco found out about the regalia, he brought the idea to the student body presidents of USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF St. Petersburg. The legislative branches voted unanimously in favor of the new regalia, and the Tampa campus Student Government passed a joint resolution.

The majority of USF students already show an interest in protecting the environment. Seventy percent of the Tampa students voted to approve the Student Green Energy Fee in 2011. In 2014, they voted again to renew the referendum. This idea paired with the fact that GreenWeaver will donate to a university sustainability project all played a role in the SG vote.

USF was ranked No. 7 on Sierra magazine’s Top 10 List of “Cool Schools,” or schools that are environmentally conscious. The university is also only one of 22 institutions on Princeton Review’s 2014 Green Rating Honor Roll. It has also received a Gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Graduating students who haven’t yet ordered their regalia can do so through the USF Bookstore. For more information, visit the USF Commencement website. You can also call the USF Bookstore at 813-974-2670 and the Office of Commencement at 813-974-1836.

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