500 will wear 11,500
plastic bottles at graduation

HERKIMER — An estimated 11,500 plastic bottles will be worn by graduates at Herkimer’s commencement May 18, but they won’t look like it. In an effort to go green on campus, Herkimer County Community College graduates and faculty will be wearing caps and gowns made of 100 percent, post-consumer recycled plastic bottles at graduation.

Herkimer has made the switch to GreenWeaver, a new line of graduation wear made by Oak Hall Cap & Gown, a leading manufacturer of academic apparel. The fabric is spun from molten plastic pellets, and on average, it takes 23 bottles to make each gown. The caps and gowns are made in Virginia.

Graduates not wanting to keep their regalia for keepsakes can place them in collection containers after commencement so they can be recycled into yet other products. Faculty will now keep their regalia for future wearing, whereas in the past, they would turn it in after each use.

"This is one of many green initiatives taken at Herkimer through the years. We are proud to be doing our part to recycle and reuse, and essentially reduce our carbon footprint," said HCCC President Ann Marie Murray.

Based on an approximate 500 gowns to be worn at Herkimer’s commencement on May 18, it is estimated that 11,500 plastic bottles will be kept out of landfills this year.