Pentacrest Museums offers free confetti Photoshop in exchange for not littering

As Hawkeyes take their end-of-the-year photos, the UI Pentacrest Museums have a simple message for photo-hungry grads: Please do not litter.


Litter on the Pentacrest is seen on Tuesday, May 7. (Courtesy of UI Pentacrest Museums.)

Charles Peckman, News reporter

As thousands of Hawkeyes prepare to receive their diplomas and bid adieu to the University of Iowa, a must-visit place for senior photos is the Pentacrest.

But as a flurry of caps and gowns (along with parents, siblings, and bumbling photographers) make their way to the steps of the Old Capitol, the UI Pentacrest Museums have a message for soon-to-be grads: Do not litter.

Posted on the museums’ Facebook and Twitter pages on Tuesday morning, photos of confetti-laced grass were paired with a simple message: “Did you know that many kinds of confetti are not biodegradable and are a health risk to our local wildlife? We are SO proud of our graduates and we’re honored that our museum is the go-to photo spot for the occasion. That’s why we’re offering to Photoshop confetti into your grad photos on the Pentacrest for FREE if you’ll stop littering. Please?”

Within three hours of the post, more than 200 people had shared the message on Facebook, and dozens of commenters shared their amusement — and outrage.

One commenter, UI graduate Eric Craver, said, “Students! Please don’t litter. Please keep my alma mater the beautiful campus that I remember. Congrats, graduates!!”

UI Pentacrest Museums communications coordinator Jessica Smith said she is glad to see students using the Old Capitol and other popular sites on campus for end-of-the-year photos, but she expressed concern over the propensity of students to leave confetti and other debris on the ground.

“It’s been really exciting to see students using the space as the perfect backdrop for their photos,” Smith said. “We’re really excited with how they wish to commemorate the occasion, but litter raises environmental concerns some may not be aware of.”

These concerns, Smith said, include nonbiodegradable confetti being ingested by animals or blowing away to other areas. Also, she said, some students pop champagne bottles, which leave sticky puddles in front of the Old Capitol.

“Overall, we just want people to clean up after themselves and realize the dangers of single-use plastics,” Smith said.