Whitman’s Seniors Choose Biodegradable Graduation Gowns
Graduation may be a few months away for Walt Whitman’s 440 seniors, but they have already laid out what they’re going to wear. With their votes cast earlier in the year, when the seniors walk down the aisle to the tune of the processional march, they will be wearing gowns spun from recycled plastic bottles. Each GreenWeaver gown uses an average of 23 bottles that create a softer-to-the-touch and more breathable gown than what’s been worn in the past. “When the senior class was given the opportunity to vote on wearing the traditional gowns or spending an additional $3 to wear the biodegradable gowns at graduation—thereby keeping over 10,000 plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill—I was very proud but not surprised that they overwhelmingly voted to “go green,” said their proud principal, Ms. Kathleen Acker.
The gowns were manufactured for Walt Whitman by Oak Hall Industries and distributed by Fogarty Enterprises of West Islip, NY. The recycled bottles are processed to remove impurities and chopped into fragments, called “flakes.” The flakes are then melted and solidified into pellets, called “chips.” The chips are melted again and extruded into continuous filament yarn that is woven, dyed, and finished into the graduation gowns. “They are very soft and comfortable and do not at all feel like what you would think a bottle would feel like,” said John Aiken, one of the seniors who will be wearing the gown at graduation. “I’m very glad to have made the decision.”
“The students at Walt Whitman High School recognize the importance of promoting environmental awareness,” said Principal Acker. “We have an outstanding student body that demonstrates an acute awareness of the fact that the impact they have on the environment today will make a difference for future generations.”
“This is an important step in creating environmental awareness in our school,” said senior Lucas Vazquez. “It’s great to be the very first class at Whitman to be doing this.”
Photo above: Left to right in photo Walt Whitman seniors: Britttany Ton, Ryan Capozzo, Danielle Saccente, Kyle Montemurro, Taylor Neal, Edu Thelusmond, Paramveer Singh, Cynthia Abad, Katie McLaughlin, Eleni Toubanos, Caela Pentz, John Aiken, Katilin Dickson, Larry Tillman, and Lucas Vazquez.
Story & Photo by Steve Bartholomew