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 is not permitted as open alcohol containers are not allowed on UCLA Grounds.

  • Swap it out for a bottle of sparkling water that gives you the same fizzy shot without leaving a sticky mess on UCLA’s iconic brick walkways.

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 and the Hilltop Shop on the Hill during normal business hours (9am-6pm)
    • Graduation Etc. Store Information
      308 Westwood Plaza
      Los Angeles, California 90024
    • Hilltop Shop Information
      330 De Neve Dr
      Los Angeles, CA 90024
      • phone: 310-206-4306
  • Collection boxes will also be available at the following locations for an hour after each ceremony:
    • Wilson Plaza
    • Royce Hall
    • Pauley Pavilion
    • Dickson Court North
    • Court of Sciences

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