Commencement 2011

Get your green on! Green gowns for graduates, moving toward Zero Waste events, and single stream recycling for commencement.


For more than two decades, Boston University has been addressing issues concerning sustainability through curriculum and research. A formal campus-wide sustainability initiative was started in 2008, and has had great positive impact in reducing Boston University’s environmental footprint. The following are some of our green points-of-pride as they relate to Commencement.

Green Gowns for Graduates

Yes, this year our scarlet and whites will be green. 4,347 caps & gowns made from 108,675 half liter plastic bottles will be provided to our graduates, keeping these bottles from filling up landfills and eliminating the need to use the equivalent of 2,174 gallons of gas to manufacture the polyester yarn used to produce the old gowns.

Green Gowns Quick Facts:

  • Made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles.
  • Each gown is made from 23 bottles.
  • 54% reduction in CO2 emissions to produce these gowns vs virgin polyester.

This is a transitional year. Less than 30% of this year’s gowns will be made from virgin polyester to eliminate the University’s existing stock. Next year all of the gowns we sell will be made from 100% recycled product.

Learn More: Textile Takeback Program: Giving Fabrics a Second Chance

Toward Zero Waste

BU Dining Services is moving toward zero waste at commencement. In 2010, 27 tons of waste was diverted from the landfill, a 240% increase from 2009.

  • Compost & Recycling: sorted behind the scenes at all commencement events.
  • No Trashcans: on the floor of catered events, only tray stands for our wait staff to sort in the back.
  • Tableware: All disposable tableware used at commencement is either compostable or recyclable.
  • Compostables: All compostables are taken to Brick Ends Farm in Hamilton, MA to be converted to a natural nutrient sold to landscapers and farmers as soil amendment.

Single Stream:

Single stream recycling will be provided at commencement on Nickerson Field. You will find recycle bins at the staging areas, in the stadium, and access and exit points on Harry Agganis Way and Babcock Street. Paper, cans & bottles can be recycled at these containers.

Commencement Recycling v02

Printed Material:

The cover and text stock of the University’s official Commencement Program – The RedBook – is a 10% post consumer waste product, and has Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifications. The cover stock also has Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

The paper stock used for our school/college convocation programs and invitations has SFI certification.

The inks used on all our commencement –related printed materials are soy based inks which are more environmentally friendly than the traditional petroleum based inks, and make the printed piece easier to recycle.

In addition, the initial mailing to all bachelor’s degree candidates and families this year was a postcard directing them to the commencement website for detailed weekend information. This resulted in a 91% paper reduction over last year.

Have printed material you don’t intend to keep? Please recycle it in the nearest recycling location.

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