MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by Goodwill Northern Michigan)

NORTHERN MICHIGAN: Question:  What’s worn for 90 minutes but lasts forever in a landfill?

Answer:  Graduation gowns.

You can help change that! In sync with the close of graduation season, Goodwill Northern Michigan will partner with Michigan-based Greener Grads, a company devoted to keeping graduation gowns out of landfills and affordable.

In the past, graduation gowns were made of cotton and rented for the big day. But over the past 30 years, the industry transitioned to “one-time use” polyester gowns. Polyester is a petroleum-based fabric made from the same chemical compound used to make plastic water bottles. Repurposing one million graduation gowns equates to preventing 588,235 gallons of oil from being used to produce new gowns, according to Greener Grads. That’s in addition to the immeasurable benefit of keeping the same gowns out of the waste stream.

Here’s how the Goodwill-Greener Grad partnership works: Goodwill will send the donated gowns it collects to Greener Grads. Greener Grads will steam-clean and press the gowns, then offer them for rent online, at a fraction of the typical retail cost. Goodwill will receive $1 each time a collected gown is rented – money that will be used to fund programs that help people from Northern Michigan with access to housing, jobs and food. Each gown can be rented up to 15 times before being repurposed as fill material. Greener Grads currently has collection efforts in 14 states.

“The business models of Greener Grads and Goodwill are a perfect fit,” said Cecil McNally, CEO of Goodwill Northern Michigan. “We’re both committed to minimizing our region’s impact on landfills, and to making affordable shopping options available to the people of Northern Michigan.”

Graduate to green! After the big day, just drop off your gown at any Goodwill store or donation site in Traverse City, Charlevoix, Chums Corners, Acme, Cadillac, Cheboygan, Alpena, Gaylord or Petoskey.

For directions to Goodwill locations visit

For more information about Greener Grads visit

Goodwill Northern Michigan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, working to help people achieve their full potential through the dignity and power of work. The organization’s successful donated goods retail operation helps support its human services programs centered around access to housing, jobs and food in 19 counties in Northern Michigan.