Redefining the Classroom

LSSU grads go green with gowns made from recycled plastic bottles

Posted: May 1st, 2011

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Blue and gold makes green, according to graduates at Lake Superior State University. During commencement ceremonies on campus today, LSSU graduates wore blue gowns that were made from recycled plastic bottles.

The gowns, each of which contains approximately 23 plastic bottles the size of those commonly used for selling water, were manufactured by GreenWeaver through Oak Hall Cap and Gown of Salem, Virginia. The gowns themselves may be recycled after students are through with them.

"We looked into this last year and talked to the student body about it," said Amber McLean, manager of Barnes & Noble at LSSU. "The gowns are made from a fabric spun from plastic pellets and the result is so comfortably soft that you have to feel it to believe it."

BLUE IS THE NEW GREEN -- Lake Superior State University graduates file into the Taffy Abel arena wearing their new gowns made from recycled plastic bottles. Each gown contains approximately 23 bottles which are chopped, melted and spun into fabric through GreenWeaver of Oak Hall Cap and Gown, Salem, Virginia. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print quality version of this photo is available here

GreenWeaver processes the bottles to remove impurities such as labels and caps. The bottles are then chopped into fragments called "flakes." The flakes are melted and solidified into uniform pellets called "chips." Then the chips are melted again and extruded into a continuous filament yarn which is woven, dyed, and finished.

The yarn is produced using 100 percent post-consumer plastic bottles, reducing CO2 gas emissions by 54.6 percent in the process of manufacturing the fabric versus virgin polyester. Petroleum usage is reduced by more than 52 percent by using thermal recycled energy, according to Oak Hall.

The move to recyclable gowns is the latest way LSSU has made its commencement ceremony and campus more "green." In recent years, instead of buying cut flowers to decorate campus and Taffy Abel Arena for graduation ceremonies, the LSSU Physical Plant purchases live flowers, trees and shrubs that can be used for decoration and then planted on campus.

Other green aspects of campus include a vegetable garden that will see its fourth growing season on the south side of the Walker Cisler Center in the center of campus.

For more information on GreenWeaver commencement gowns, contact McLean at 635-2636 or You may visit the Barnes & Noble at LSSU website by running a search for "Barnes and Noble" at add text –LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,