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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 67.06
Liaison Allie Schwartz
Submission Date April 14, 2015
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.0

Columbia University
IN-1: Innovation 1

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Allie Schwartz
Assistant Manager
Environmental Stewardship
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Title or keywords related to the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Columbia University Green Commencement: Recycle a Bottle, Dress a Grad!

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome :

Columbia University Environmental Stewardship partnered with Facilities, Housing, the EcoReps, the Columbia bookstore and others to put together a campaign centered around recycling at the 2014 Commencement. 50% of the bachelors and masters gowns were from Oak Hall, made from recycled plastic bottles. One gown is made from 46 bottles. Each water station at the event was accompanied by a sign that informed guests of the “Recycle a bottle, Dress a grad!” initiative. The EcoReps wore this “lock-up” design on their shirts to spread the message even further. During the ceremony, they helped to educate guests about recycling. After the ceremony was over, the EcoReps harvested bottles left behind by guests, and counted the total number of trash, paper recycling and bottles left behind.
This coming year, that number will be 100% (the gown themselves can be recycled at the Bookstore). There will also be a broader awareness campaign featuring new signage near recycling receptacles and water stations, among other initiatives

In 2015, the goal is to move to 100% recycled gowns through the Bookstore. Following Commencement, the gowns can also be recycled at the Bookstore. There will also be a broader awareness campaign featuring new signage near recycling receptacles and water stations, among other initiatives.


A brief description of any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation (if not reported above):

987 pounds of glass, metal, plastic and cartons were collected, 286 pounds of paper and cardboard, totaling 1273 pounds of material that was diverted from the landfill.


A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise:
Which of the following STARS subcategories does the innovation most closely relate to? (Select all that apply up to a maximum of 5):
Yes or No
Curriculum No
Research No
Campus Engagement Yes
Public Engagement Yes
Air & Climate Yes
Buildings No
Dining Services No
Energy No
Grounds Yes
Purchasing No
Transportation No
Waste Yes
Water No
Coordination, Planning & Governance No
Diversity & Affordability No
Health, Wellbeing & Work No
Investment No

Other topic(s) that the innovation relates to that are not listed above:
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The website URL where information about the innovation is available :

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.