Vanderbilt University adds more green elements to Commencement

Green printing, paper recycling, reducing plastic bottles and a reusable lunch bag are among the new green initiatives being implemented this year for Vanderbilt University’s Commencement activities.

Green printing practices, including using recycled paper and envelope-free technology where possible along with vegetable-based inks, have been used for several Commencement items. Paper recycling will also be offered for the first time this year for the programs and fans handed out to Commencement attendees. Plastic bottle, aluminum can, glass and cardboard recycling will continue to be offered as they have in the past.

“We want to recycle as many bottles as possible when we have bottles, and to look at reducing the use of bottles overall,” said Jennifer Hackett, Vanderbilt’s recycling coordinator. “We are making progress toward that goal: In 2008, we recycled 1.5 tons of plastic from Commencement activities, and in 2009, that dropped down to one ton of plastic.”

This year, in hopes of further reduction, water bottles will not be available at Senior Day activities in Memorial Gym this year, and water stations will be provided for refilling cups and personal water bottles. At Commencement, smaller 12-ounce bottles will be handed out this year, and water stations also will be provided.

Dining Services will also reduce the amount of plastic used and waste generated at Commencement. This year, the boxed lunches traditionally offered to seniors and their family members will be packaged in a keepsake reusable bag instead of plastic containers that would have ended up in the trash.

One idea the university considered and decided against was to use caps and gowns made from recycled plastic.

“The rental process we have in place made more sense environmentally since they are cleaned in an eco-friendly manner and reused for a number of years. Not only are the gowns nicer, but we’re saving the energy and resources that it would take each time to produce the others. And, ours don’t end up in the landfill each year,” said Matthew Redd, director of Commencement.

“Each year, we work closely with the Commencement office to try to add new processes that reduce the impact Commencement and its related activities like the Party and Senior Day have on the environment,” said Andrea George, director of Vanderbilt’s Sustainability and Environmental Management Office. “We hope to continue to improve our efforts into the future.”

For more information on Vanderbilt’s sustainability programs, please visit .

For more news about Vanderbilt University Commencement, visit .

Media Contact: Missy Pankake, (615) 322-NEWS