Graduation Gown Recycling

Date Published: 
March 27, 2017

An initiative funded by our student green fund, the Charlotte Green Initiative, and launched last semester, is enabling students who want to lessen their environmental impact and turn a waste stream into something beneficial to do so. For the initiative, students targeted their graduation gowns as an item to address.

Graduation gowns generally are worn once, for only a few hours, and then tossed in the trash or stored in a closet. The gown material takes several hundred years to decompose in a landfill; it has a negative impact on the environment for the entirety of its decomposition. The purpose of this student-funded initiative is to collect the gowns, and in partnership with Crisis Assistance Ministry, re-purpose the gowns by giving them to financially insecure graduating high school seniors around the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The decision of whether to buy an $80 gown that will be worn for three hours or to pay a monthly electric bill is a very real dilemma for some families. This program will help alleviate the stress of that decision, divert waste, and give local students to opportunity to graduate with dignity.

Currently, UNC Charlotte is the only university in North America running such an initiative to mitigate waste and provide a positive impact to the surrounding community.

Collection bins will be located in each reception location following the May 2017 commencement ceremonies: Popp-Martin Student Union, SAC Food Court, COED Atrium, Cone Center, and CHHS. 

Our university homepage boldly states that, “UNC Charlotte maintains a particular commitment to addressing the cultural, economic, educational, environmental, health, and social needs of the great Charlotte region.” Each of these needs is addressed by this student-inspired initiative. Please join in and help make this as successful as possible.