Amidst the excitement of event planning, it is easy to forget the environmental impact our events can have on Michigan State University's campus and the community. Between food, advertising, decorations, waste, and transportation, events are resource-intensive. Events on campus can generate waste ranging from 50 to 31,000 pounds, challenging the university to maintain a clean, sustainable campus under the influx of material. For this reason MSU Sustainability is challenging faculty, staff and students to green certify their campus events.

Spartan Green Event Certification uses an online form to evaluate several areas of event sustainability. If submitted at least two weeks prior to the event, a certification will be awarded depending on the amount of sustainable measures taken. Spartan Green Certified Events will receive a certificate and seal for event marketing purposes, and to let others in the community know that you care about being sustainable.

"Often, event mentality is strongly focused on having a good time and engaging with the people around you, not recycling or being mindful of your waste," said Dave Smith, Waste Reduction Coordinator at MSU Recycling, "but that doesn't mean it isn't important."

On an economic level, less trash material means savings for the university through reduced landfill disposal fees and revenue generated through recycling. Last year alone, MSU diverted over 19 million pounds of waste from the landfill, generating gross revenue for the sale of reusable, recyclable and compostable material.

"What a lot of people don't realize is that we are responsible for all the waste brought to campus, no matter where it came from – even if it was brought here from a separate location for things like sporting events or tailgates. If we can better sort that waste initially, it's beneficial for the environment and the university," said Smith.

To combat the 'event mentality' and encourage sustainable behavior, university departments are working together to improve waste disposal at university events. MSU Residential and Hospitality Services' 2015 Annual Team Member Appreciation Picnic achieved an impressive 94% waste diversion rate. This effort not only reflects a university-wide commitment to sustainability, but also how effective green event strategies can be.

Spartan Green Event Certification encourages students, faculty, staff and visitors to reduce the environmental and financial costs of their event, and engage event attendees in sustainable practices.

To learn more about sustainable event strategies and apply for Spartan Green Event Certification, visit: http://bespartangreen.msu.edu/green-event-certification.php