“The Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s Greener Graduation initiative at Kapiʻolani Community College was a big success!” writes Julie Rancilio, the Kapiʻolani CC associate professor who advises the honor society students.
The students had launched the initiative to get graduates to donate their caps and gowns in order to keep them out of landfills. Across the nation, an estimated five million caps and gowns are thrown away every year.
Right after the Kapiʻolani CC’s May 10 commencement ceremony at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center, 45 caps and gowns were donated. Plus, seven of the ten students who had rented used caps and gowns from the honor society returned them after the ceremony. The total number of donations and rental returns represents about 10 percent of the graduates who walked.
“Right now, we have 55 caps and gowns that we can rent out next year, and hopefully we will be able to collect a few more before the 2020 Commencement Ceremony,” Rancillio said.
The honor society rented out 10 caps and gowns this year for $20 each. Every student who returned a rented cap and gown after graduation received $5 back. Renting was about half the cost of buying it new at the bookstore.
Students can still donate their caps and gowns. There is a drop-off basket in Kapiʻolani CC’s Lama Library across from the circulation area and another in front of Rancillio’s office in Kalia 211.
The students hope to get more donated caps and gowns at next year’s commencement. Rancillio says spreading awareness of the program and its importance is “helping us to change our graduation culture.”