Graduation gowns go green in Michigan

March 16, 2012 at 6:41 PM

HOUGHTON, Mich., March 16 (UPI) -- Graduates' caps and gowns at a Michigan university commencement will be black -- but also green, because they're made from recycled plastic, the school says.

Michigan Technological University's spring commencement in April will feature graduates in gowns and caps made from Repreve, a 100 percent recyclable yarn made from plastic water bottles, the school said in a release Friday.

Yarn for one gown comes from 27 plastic water bottles, and the gowns, caps and tassels will cost the same as traditional ones at $32, the school said.

The eco-friendly garments, discussed for a few years at Michigan Tech, will now be the standard for commencements.

"How cool," said Beckie Belanger of the school's campus bookstore, who located the product.

She negotiated with companies to get a good price because "I didn't want the graduates to have to spend more," she said.

The recycled material is soft, breathable, and doesn't wrinkle, with a flat instead of a shiny look, school officials said.

With about 1,000 graduates at Michigan Tech this spring, 27,000 empty bottles will be put to use instead of into the landfill, they said.

After commencement, graduates can either keep the caps and gown or donate them to be recycled again.

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