Green Is the New Black for Academic Gowns at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Sustainability professor Gail Whiteman introduces the Cradle-to-Cradle “Eco-Toga”

For her inaugural address  Professor Gail Whiteman, Ecorys NEI Chair in Sustainability & Climate Change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, wore the world’s first “Eco-Toga.”

This traditional-looking academic gown is made of Returnity® fabric which is Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) certified. Great care has been taken to produce the gown with a low environmental and social impact. After use it is totally recyclable, with the same minimal impact on the environment. Gail Whiteman collaborated with the sustainable fashion label DutchSpirit, and de Togamaker, a gown supplier. It is the very first time such a gown has been developed and it is a unique experiment in eco-fashion.

In academia, it is a tradition for professors to wear a long black gown during formal events such as inaugural addresses. This is meant to signify wisdom. Some traditions become static, while others develop with the times. As a new professor with a specific interest in Sustainability and Climate Change, Gail Whiteman wondered how best to ‘walk her talk’ - starting with her toga. “An academic gown is made of cloth: fabric that has an impact on the planet like all products we consume,” said Whiteman. “I wondered whether it could be produced in a more eco-effective way.”

“An Eco-Toga cannot save the world, even if it is the first of its kind,” said Whiteman.  “But this small act of innovation by like-minded individuals is a step in the right direction. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.””

About Gail Whiteman
Gail Whiteman is the Ecorys NEI Professor of Sustainability and Climate Change at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. She has a PhD from Queen’s School of Business in Canada. Whiteman is co-founder and the Director of the Centre for Corporate Eco-Transformation at RSM. Her research on sustainability has been published in leading management and ecology journals, including the Academy of Management Journal, Nature, Ecology & Society, Organization Studies, Business Strategy & The Environment, among others.

About DutchSpirit
DutchSpirit is a sustainable fashion label. All styles are made according to the rules of ethical clothing and are climate neutral. They use as many durable, nature-friendly materials as possible, all of the highest quality. By working in an environmental and socially friendly way, customers are given the opportunity to participate in a trading partnership that supports people and the environment. After use, Returnity® fabricis collected to re-use it again. That is why a deposit is put on it.

About RETURNITY® - the fabric of many lives.
Returnity is the world’s first fabric to combine the flame retardant properties of Trevira CS with the environmental properties of cradle-to-cradle. This means, that all Returnity-fabrics are 100% recyclable. This is made possible by a revolutionary eco-friendly chemical optimisation process developed by Backhausen and the environmental research institute EPEA. All advantages of the fabric Trevira CS have been combined with the benefits of Cradle-to-Cradle-compliant products – at the end of its long life as a product, the fabric can be returned and recycled. The result: ‘Returnity’ starts a new life as a new, residue-free product, and the cycle of usage proceeds without interruption. Environment and coming generations have reason to respire.

About Joh.Huyer/ de Togamaker
Since 1896, de Togamaker has created an
d produced its robes and gowns in the company’s own ateliers. Servicing the judiciary, civic authorities and academia, it can cater for all sorts of robes and gowns abiding to wearer’s wishes, with a perfectly tailored modern twist. Being a small family company, Joh.Huyer designs and produces, under the brand name deTogamaker, an extensive range of gowns and gown accessories, all crafted to the highest standard of quality and workmanship.

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University is consistently ranked amongst the top 10 business schools in Europe. It is located in the international port city of Rotterdam where core Dutch values of openness, flexibility and acceptance of diversity have attracted businesses on a global scale. Our emphasis is on groundbreaking research and practices relevant to business; our primary focus is on developing business leaders who carry their innovative ideas into a sustainable future. Our portfolio includes a broad array of bachelor, master, doctoral, MBA and executive education programmes.

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