Posted by: Alison Damast on April 8, 2011
Recyclable graduation gowns may soon be the latest trend of the commencement season, thanks to a business professor from the Netherlands. Gail Whiteman, a professor at Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management (Rottterdam Full-Time MBA Profile), decided to design her own academic gown for an event celebrating her promotion to department chair. She teaches courses on climate change and sustainability and decided it was time to “talk the walk” for her inaugural lecture before the school, starting with the academic gown she’d be wearing at the event, she says. “I wondered whether it could produced in a more eco-effective way,” she says.
Thus ensued a collaboration between Whiteman and DutchSpirit, a sustainable fashion label and de Togamaker, a gown supplier. The designers worked with Whiteman to produce a custom-made gown using a fabric called Returnity, that’s both recyclable and sustainable. She wore the gown last week for the event.
Whiteman is hoping that this small act will inspire others in the business school community to follow her example. She is in talks with heads of the university’s other programs to see if they are interested in providing sustainable gowns to graduates, and is promoting the eco-friendly garment to professors at Erasmus and other universities in the Netherlands, she says.
“An Eco-Togo cannot save the world, even if it is the first of its kind,” says Whiteman. “But this small act of innovation by like-minded individuals is a step in the right direction.”