COLUMBUS -- Gowns used by faculty and staff during commencement at Central Community College-Columbus aren’t colored green, but they are environmentally friendly.
New gowns and caps made of recycled plastic bottles were used for the first time at graduation last week. Purchased from Oak Hall, the GreenWeaver academic attire cost about $2,400.
Matt Gotschall, campus president, said the college had spent about $2,800 each year to rent traditional fabric gowns, so the move to the ones made of recycled material is a cost saving effort, as well as one that is good for the environment.
“Due to the limited use, the gowns should be able to be used for many years versus rented annually. If someone leaves the institution, the gown can be sent back to the company to be recycled again,” Gotschall said.
More than 65 gowns and caps were purchased, along with hoods and tassels. The material is made from 100 percent post-consumer plastic bottles and feel the same as the polyester gowns that were worn in years past. The student gowns are polyester and are purchased by students.
The caps and gowns made of recycled plastic are just one way the college has been incorporating sustainable initiatives on the campus.
“The entire Central Community College system has taken an increased emphasis on sustainability practices and education of our students, employees and communities on ways to conserve and recycle our natural resources. We have not only incorporated more recycling of building materials in remodels and additions, but have sought ways that each department and CCC employee can eliminate product waste from landfills,” Gotschall said.
The move toward sustainability came about because the college system signed on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and became a member of SEED (Sustainability Education and Economic Development) Center, which works to advance sustainability and green workforce development and practices at community colleges.
Working toward sustainability is an ongoing process, but the college has already done work in that area. The college recently hosted a sustainability leadership series that focused on topics such as climate change and how to implement sustainability in communities.
Some other steps taken within the college system to promote sustainability include installing photovoltaic solar panels at the Hastings campus that supply 17 kilowatts of power. The college also recently purchased four hybrid vehicles as part of its fleet rotation.
Environmentally friendly options have also show up in the buildings at the Columbus campus. Building updates that have been ongoing, including a new residence hall opened in 2010, feature recycled materials and energy efficient windows. The carpeting and counter tops in the residence hall are all made from recycled products.