Regardless of what this year's weather will bring next, campus is expected to be greener than usual for graduation.
Throughout the rest of the semester, seniors will be given opportunities to sign a pledge of life-long commitment to the environment. To show this dedication, these students will be encouraged to wear green ribbons during commencement exercises.
The pledge is one facet of a larger effort by many seniors and by Sustainable Bowdoin to make graduation "greener" this year and in the future.
"We're not the first ones to do this," Coordinator for a Sustainable Bowdoin Keisha Payson said. She cited College of the Atlantic, which recently held a "zero waste" graduation.
"We've seen this sort of thing happen at other schools, and we've become motivated," she said.
Students will try to compensate for energy used on campus during commencement weekend by buying "green energy," which comes from renewable, non-polluting sources.
"We're not actually replacing the energy that will be used," explained Ben Smith '06, who is spearheading the student initiative. "Instead, we are donating green energy somewhere else on the grid."
Smith is working with Facilities Management to determine the amount of energy that will likely be used during graduation weekend. This number will be reached by examining energy usage of certain buildings on an average day and tweaking the numbers to better represent the needs of the event. Although the students hope to be able to completely off-set the energy usage with green energy credits, they have not raised the necessary funds yet.
Several smaller-scale changes will also be implemented to decrease the amount of environmental harm caused by graduation. For instance, recycle bins will be placed on the Quad to encourage guests and graduates to use them to dispose of their programs and water bottles.
Also, Sustainable Bowdoin plans to donate compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to Maine Bay Canvas, the company that will provide tents for various outdoor events during the weekend. CFL bulbs use less energy and last longer than normal light bulbs. Maine Bay Canvas will also be able to use them for other events in the future that take place outside of Bowdoin.
"It's a symbolic donation," Smith said. "We are having an impact even beyond our graduation."
According to Payson, Bowdoin College Dining Service has come up with some of its own initiatives to make its operating procedures for the event more environmentally friendly. The cookware used will be biodegradable, the amount of locally produced foods will be increased, and the lobster shells from the lobster bake will be composted.
Both Payson and Smith expect that this year's graduation will serve as a precedent for future graduations. They hope that certain changes made this year will become standard policies.
Payson added that making the event less harmful to the environment is a "work in progress."
While making the actual event more environmentally friendly is important to him, Smith is especially excited by the idea that seniors will carry an environmental consciousness with them throughout their lives.
"We want to cement in graduating seniors the idea of the common good, beyond the halls of the College," he said.