Gone are the days of single-use fabric graduation gowns. Thanks to hometown favorite Coca-Cola, the 2020 APS graduating classes will be saying goodbye to their high school years in caps and gowns made from recycled plastic bottles.
These upcycled gowns are only a small part of the “Coca Cola Renew” program that promotes sustainability and emphasizes the benefits of recycling. The project kicked off during Earth Week in April 2019, when the company hosted a collection drive for plastic bottles. By the end of the week, the company had amassed around 8,000 bottles, far surpassing its original goal of 7,000. In the past few months, the bottles have made their way to a processing plant in North Carolina, where they have been cleaned and turned into polyester for gowns.
The creation of these environmentally friendly gowns signifies a changing attitude towards sustainability. Instead of showing the typical feet-dragging that might be typical of environmentally unevolved corporations, the Coca-Cola company is inviting such a change in order to further benefit the community. Among the people most excited about this initiative are members of North Atlanta’s Environmental Club. “I think it’s super cool that Coke is doing this for us,” said Senior Molly Neel. “It’s a huge step in the right direction.”
It’s one thing for the graduation gear to be renewable, it’s another for it to be free. Coke is taking the burden off of the environment and APS by donating the caps and gowns at no cost to the district. This will enable the school board and the families of graduates to spend their money on things other than the mandatory graduation outfits. APS superintendent Meria Carstarphen put this feeling of graciousness into words in a statement provided to the Coca Cola company. “It’s a beautiful gesture for giving back to their hometown schools and the environment,” she said.
An old slogan of Coke’s from the 1980s reads: “Coca Cola Revives and Sustains,” which today seems ahead of its time. This saying is representative of the newer, greener approach that the iconic brand has adopted. So take these gowns as a sign to reduce, reuse, recycle, and open happiness.