Learn how to make your events and programs more sustainable.

Golden Gorge Event
Annual Golden Gorge Awards ceremony for students celebrating their accomplishments, ideas, and innovation in creating a sustainable campus, future, and world.

Basic Checklist

  • Establish specific sustainability goals for the event. Here are some to get started: waste minimization; easy accessibility for participants.
  • Make food sustainable (local, healthy, fresh and plant based).
  • Ask the caterer to supply composting; otherwise, contact R5.

First Steps

  • Develop partnerships with relevant campus departments, including Buildings and Grounds Maintenance, the Sustainability Office, Cornell Dining / Cornell Catering and R5 Operations/Cornell Recycling early on in the planning process.
  • Create a plan – Develop a planning timeline and use this checklist to consider outreach and communication, location of the event, energy use, giveaways, transportation, food, waste, and clean-up in the initial phase of planning.
  • Schedule your event at Scheduling@Cornell for event locations on Cornell’s campus. Be sure to include sustainability goals. 
  • Designate a green coordinator – All members of the planning committee will need to be involved in the efforts to create a sustainable event but establishing a point person to coordinate recycling and composting efforts will ensure successful implementation of the plan.
  • Confirm vendors – After developing the green plan, the coordinator can select approved vendors and event supplies that fit sustainability goals.


  • Create a website for the event and consider using online registration to limit paper use.
  • Use online advertising and social media to promote event, instead of printed materials.
  • E-mail fliers over listservs.
  • Reuse banners. 
  • When printing is unavoidable, use responsible printing techniques:
  • Use double-sided printing for promotional materials and handouts. 
  • Use recycled paper and soy-based inks. 
  • Avoid laminating and keep your signs and posters recyclable. 
  • Provide reusable name badges. 
  • Communicate the sustainability efforts – Inform attendees, exhibitors, and speakers of sustainable event standards.
  • Promote waste reduction efforts with well-labeled signs located by compost, trash, and recycling bins. Find downloadable signs and posters here.

Where & When 

  • When choosing a time and place for the event, try to use rooms that are energy efficient and let in natural light.
  • Cornell has many LEED-certified buildings, including Weill Hall, Alice Cook House, Martha van Rensselaer, the Physical Sciences Building, Cornell Plantations Visitor Center, and Milstein Hall.
  • If the event involves multiple locations, ensure they are within a walkable distance of each other to limit car travel.
  • If participants need accommodations, recommend hotels that offer recycling and re-use programs.