Interesting question. THere is a significant amount of waste that is often created by large events such as graduation–including food scraps and food containers, paper products, water bottles etc. Also, if the ceremony is inside, the electricity for lighting/cooling/heating.
I would have to say that the graduates’ gowns are the most un-eco friendly component in a graduation ceremony. The gowns are made of synthetic materials/polyester, tend to be overpriced, and are never used again by a majority of the graduates. Most schools require that you buy their own cap and gown or you cannot walk. They do not encourage any recycling of the garments. This in no way supports a sustainable and eco friendly act. A few schools have recognized this and are purchasing more eco-friendly gowns made out of recycled water bottles. Also being proposed are options to rent and donate the gowns.
I would say one of the least eco friendly thing is getting all the people to the event. Most people drive their own cars there, which is a pretty big number if you add it up, depending on the school and the number of graduates of that year. As mentioned above the use a plastic for pretty much every food is also a big minus point for the organizers.
I agree with seppe. At a college graduation, people come from all over the place via all modes of transportation (planes, trains and automobiles).
There is also all the behind the scenes stuff that doesn’t necessarily happen on graduation day, but still contributes to the total amount of waste or energy used surrounding the event. There are almost always invitations that get sent out to people all across the country which get hung up on the fridge for a few days or weeks only to be thrown out at a later date.
Just as seppe said, all of the visitors that attend the actual event, these people are also traveling and likely staying in hotels or at the graduate’s home, using additional resources than they normally would if they were in their own home.
In addition to the parties that take place on the day of graduation, there are usually other, smaller parties that happen in and around graduations, sometimes one for friends, one for family, one for visitors, etc. These parties can be extremely wasteful in that they usually use plastic silverware, paper cups and plates, and people purchase large amounts of food that don’t always get used (and are often tossed out).
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