Berkeley students say their biodegradable caps and gowns aren’t green enough and it’s an embarrassment

Campus Reform Reporter

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  • Students made requests for environmentally friendly caps and gowns just five days before graduation.
  • Students argue a more sustainable cap and gown is within reach.
  • The senior editorial board of the student newspaper at University of California - Berkeley is complaining that their biodegradable caps and gowns are not environmentally friendly enough and it’s an embarrassment to the school.

    “Our campus buys the biodegradable option from this corporation, but without more recycling or reuse effort, these make little impact on the overall waste created,” states an editorial published in The Daily Californian on Monday.

    "A more verifiably sustainable cap and gown is within reach."   

    “This is not the image that UC Berkeley’s commencement should project,” it continues.

    But Berkeley spokesperson Andy Pino told Campus Reform that the school was already going beyond biodegradable gowns to make the ceremony environmentally friendly.

    “We’ll have large water dispensers to cut down on the number of disposable water bottles, we'll use recyclable and compostable plates and utensils for catering, and we will have donation bins where students will be able to donate their gowns for reuse as part of the campus Graduation Gown-Lending Project,” he said in an email on Thursday.

    However, the students maintained that the school’s efforts are just a “halfway point toward a sustainable commencement.”

    For example, students said that while “donation is possible” through the Graduation Gown-Lending Project, the program is not enough.

    “The university should place more emphasis on publicizing and expanding programs for reuse of graduation gowns.”

    Students also called on the school to offer gowns made of renewable fibers or post consumer plastics claiming "[a] more verifiably sustainable cap and gown is within reach."

    The students made all of these requests just five days before the ceremony, which is on Saturday.

    The editorial board did not respond to requests for comment from Campus Reform in time for publication.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter @kctimpf