Graduation gowns have been around for a long time, centuries in fact. However, they’ve changed a great deal since then and don’t look much like they once did. In fact, some people say that they haven’t really improved for the better over the last three decades. 

That’s because while these gowns were first only made from the most high-quality materials, they have since switched to cheaper fabrics such as polyester, which is a toxic and non-biodegradable petroleum-based product. 

Although cheaper, these types of graduation gowns are still revered but instead of keeping them most students will either give them away or sell them simply because they’re not of good quality. 

Some students will keep only the graduation cap tassel and throw everything else out. That’s why landfills see over 5 million gowns being thrown out, causing incredible amounts of pollution. 

The good news is that a growing number of graduation attire manufacturers are starting to make a change and prioritize making sustainable gowns that won’t take as much of a toll on the environment. 

Some companies have started making their gowns from 100% recycled yarn and they are also recycled afterward. 

How to Reuse Your Graduation Gown

Now, it’s going to take time before all graduation gowns and caps are made from environmentally friendly materials but a lot of effort is being made in this direction. 

One of the important steps to be taken is to find sustainable ways to dispose of the PET gowns that are still being made or are in circulation. 

The material is scratchy, thin, and uncomfortable but it can be utilized to make pillowcases or blankets among other things. 

Here are a few more ideas on how to repurpose a used PET graduation gown: 

  • Pass it down to a family member or family friend so that they can use it for their own graduation ceremony. 
  • Return it to your school as a donation for students who may not be able to afford buying a new gown. This would be particularly helpful to a low-income school district. 
  • You may also donate your gown to a local thrift store. It might help someone who’s looking for an affordable graduation gown one day. 
  • You can also donate your graduation gown and cap to a local preschool for when the kids play dress-up so they can get an idea of what it’s like when they graduate college. 
  • Donate it to your local theater. Their costume department might appreciate it. 

Consider the Environment

It’s more important than ever to prioritize environmental sustainability in everything that we do, including graduation ceremonies. Try out graduation cap ideas to spruce up a used cap. 

You could carpool with your fellow students or encourage your family and friends that plan on coming to support you to carpool. 

You could also ask your loved ones to gift you with eco-friendly grad gifts such as concert tickets or even a donation in your name. for the graduation party, be sure to use reusable tablecloths, silverware glasses, and plates. 


Humanity is on a collision course with environmental disaster and one of the best things that we can do is the little that we can to fix the damage that has been done. 

A huge part of this is reducing the amount of PET waste that we put out there, recycling and reusing as much as well can, and when it comes to graduation gowns, either reusing or donating after. 

You can even rent a graduation gown if you like. 

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