Sustainable Graduation

By Kikei Wong

UCLA Zero Waste Manager


Graduation is a time of celebration. We all crave that picture-perfect moment with confetti, glitter, champagne, and balloons. However, these products litter the campus with trash that is difficult to clean up and contribute to pollution far from campus. Here are some swaps to make your moment magical without making a mess! The full guide is available for download.

Glitter & Confetti for Bubbles & Filters

All forms of glitter and confetti are very difficult to clean up because of its small size. Most of it ends up as contamination in storm drains and waterways, threatening water quality and marine life.

  • Swap glitter and confetti out for leaves, flower petals, dried flowers or herbs, local bird seed, and other natural substitutes.
  • Add a filter or other graphic elements like stickers to your shots in post-production. If Powell cat refused to show up for your shoot, add him in after the fact.

Champagne for Sparkling Water

Popping champagne bottles leave a sticky mess and stains UCLA’s iconic brick walkways.

  • Swap it out for a bottle of sparkling water and leave no trace behind.
  • Pop champagne on the grass for a nature shot instead, and be sure to pick up the cork afterwards.

Balloons for Props & Cutouts

Balloons are a huge source of ocean pollution and are often mistaken for food, suffocating and killing marine animals. Mylar balloons also cause hundreds of power outages and fires in California alone when they make contact with transformers and power lines.

  • Make a statement with a crafty sign, letter board, or chalkboard. Get creative with your messages!
  • Memorialize your UCLA experience by bringing props and cutouts to your photoshoot. Pose with your favorite drink from Kerckhoff Coffee House or your last assignment, or commemorate the Class of ‘21 with a callout sign.

Graduation Gown Return

Graduation gowns are used only a few times and are often left to collect dust in a closet after this celebratory period.

  • If desired, graduates can return their graduation gowns to the Graduation Etc. Store at Ackerman Union A-Level during normal business hours (9am-6pm)
    • 308 Westwood Plaza
      Los Angeles, California 90024
  • Collection boxes will also be available at both LA Tennis Center and Drake Stadium near the exit of the venue. The boxes will be available for an hour after each ceremony.

Congrats to all the grads! If you have any questions or feedback for future sustainable graduation programs, please email zerowaste@ucla.edu.