Reuse, not recycle, to reduce
I mentioned in a previous Letter to the Editor that one-use graduation robes are wasteful and that a robe rental system should be implemented.
I took my concern to President Maravene Loeschke and received a reply from Assistant Provost Toyia Younger.
She informed me that the graduation robes for this year are made from recycled plastic bottles.
She also said that anyone not wearing the appropriate robe could not attend commencement.
While it’s nice that the recycled plastic bottles are being reused, they are still ultimately ending up in the landfill in the form of a black polyester robe.
Saying that one-use robes are environmentally friendly is akin to saying that bottled water in a recycled bottle is environmentally friendly.
It’s much more environmentally friendly to use a reusable container and avoid bottled water entirely. While recycled robes are a step in the right direction, I must argue that reuse is always better than recycling.
Why not reuse the recycled robes?
Why would it be unreasonable to have reusable robes? Most students would return them, and students that don’t return them may simply be charged for the robes.
Two universities, Auburn and UC Davis, both have successfully implemented regalia rental programs.
In addition to the environmental benefit of using rentals the rental is less expensive than a new TU graduation robe.
I also discussed these concerns with Dr. Younger, and she said that she would bring the topic to next year’s graduation planning.
I ask that students that are graduating in the future to bring the topic up again next year in the commencement planning stage.