When it comes to important events like graduations, most of us painstakingly obsess over what we're going to wear. After all, these pictures are going to be around for the rest of our lives and we want to make sure that we look presentable, right? One British woman opted to make an entirely different choice with her graduation gown, going more for a political statement than a fashion statement.
Emily Stevenson grew up in a picturesque part of North Cornwall, famed for its beautiful beaches and delicious seaside treats. For those that call that particular part of England home, it's not unusual for them to have spent a large part of their childhood on the sandy shores. In a poignant article penned for Metro, Stevenson explains her decision to forgo graduation chic and instead wear a dress made out of crisp packets. "I can remember a time when we would walk along the beach and struggle to find a small handful of plastics," she writes. "Now we are filling buckets and buckets at a time."
It's thought that around 8 million tons of plastic waste are dumped into our oceans every year, with the number on the rise. While some retailers are taking steps to reduce waste by changing their packaging, the problem is still one that needs a vital solution. Stevenson, a marine biology graduate, discovered a Walkers crisp packet in January of this year that dated back to 1997 - the year of her birth.
"I couldn't believe my eyes," she said. "It really, honestly hurt me. I couldn't understand how, for so long, we have all been so oblivious to our own destruction." It was this discovery, fuelled by her passion for sea-life preservation that caused Stevenson to create her specially-made gown in order to send Walkers - and other big companies like it - a message. Relying on donations of packets from friends, Emily picked up a needle and thread for the first time since finishing high school and created her plastic outfit in around 20 hours - albeit with a few touch ups throughout the day.
The talented youngster didn't just stop at her crisp packet statement dress either and has gone on to found Beach Guardian, a platform to help communities organize regular beach cleans.
Thank you, Emily, for doing your part to help our planet!