Event Planners

Glass jars with event food next to a reusable sign, demonstrating how to reduce waste at an event
Example of a food event free from single-use plates and utensils | Photo: Campus Sustainability Office

Event Planners

Designed for events large and small, the Sustainable Event Program supports low-impact event planning at Cornell.  Improve your event sustainability with our guide to a sustainable event, local catering list, and certification program for completing steps in food, waste, purchasing, accessibility, and more. 

Purpose of this Program

Cornell University hosts over 10,000+ events annually, making event planners crucial to our campus sustainability efforts. With simple changes to how we host events, together we can have a large collective impact on improving purchasing, reducing waste, and demonstrating our culture of sustainability to visitors and our community. Check out previously certified events to see who is making an impact at Cornell by hosting smarter, sustainable events!

Getting Started

Sustainable Event Certification

Certification is easy.  Fill out a short form before your event to receive certification as a Sustainable Event (5+ actions) or Platinum Sustainable Event (10+ actions). Single or recurring events of any size can be certified. 

By completing the certification process, you are helping to integrate sustainability into business practices, capture what actions are taken across campus, share best practices among event planners, and address on-going issues event planners are facing. Thank you for participating!

Round certification logo with bear
Sustainable Event Certification logo for events committing to 5+ actions 

How to Certify

  1. Check out the Sustainable Event Checklist to identify ways to make your next event more sustainable
  2. Before hosting your event, self-certify using the Sustainable Event Certification form, where you will commit to taking 5 or more actions
  3. Add a certification logo to your marketing materials
  4. After hosting your event, complete the quick debrief survey to report what actions you took and offer recommendations to other event planners 

Key Sustainable Event Resources

Check mark

Sustainable Event Checklist

This checklist is the one-stop shop to understand how to make your event more sustainable. It's also the basis for certification.

Sustainable Catering & Vendor List

Browse a list of local sustainable food and catering providers, with details provided by vendors about organic, local, vegetarian food options, sustainable service ware, and more.

Certification Logos

After becoming certified, use these logos to advertise your event's certification on your marketing materials.

30 Minute Event Consultation

Still feeling confused? Request a 30-minute consultation with the Campus Sustainability Office. We'll help you plan and submit your event certification.

It's a Certified Success!

Sustainable Event Champions

Dyson Grand Challenges: AEM 4940 The Business and Sustainability of Boats 

250 attendees 

14 total actions including: Chose an outdoor venue or naturally lit indoor location; Communicated with their caterer about how and why they want their event more sustainable; Encouraged attendees to take home leftover food; Announced at the beginning of the event a land acknowledgment; Requested proper landfill and recycling bins from R5; Posted well-labeled signage above waste bins to prevent contamination.

Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives  

90 attendees 

9 total actions including: Ensured that any purchased giveaway items are useful to attendees; Added the sustainable event certification logo on event promotions; Avoided over-ordering food by requiring event registration; Supplied reusable plates, cups, and utensils through your caterer or Dish Truck; Chose a location that allowed attendees to use sustainable transportation options, like TCAT bus routes, EV charging stations, and bike racks 

Cornell Botanic Gardens 

35 attendees 

15 total actions including: Announced instructions at the beginning of the event for how to landfill, recycle, and compost at the venue; Supplied reusable plates, cups, and utensils through their caterer or Dish Truck; Served food & beverages buffet-style to avoid individually packaged items; Chose a preferred caterer from the Sustainable Caterers List after considering a variety of sustainability criteria; Chose to host hybrid participation options to reduce travel emissions.

Environment & Sustainability 

50 attendees 

11 total actions including: Developed new action by using their own comopsting bins; Announced instructions at the beginning of the event for how to landfill, recycle, and compost at the venue; Supplied reusable plates, cups, and utensils through your caterer or Dish Truck; Encouraged the use of nearby water bottle filling stations and avoided offering individual bottles of water; Served food & beverages buffet-style to avoid individually packaged items; Created a plant-powered menu with primarily vegetarian and vegan options.

Thank you to all of the sustainable events!

Beyond Waste Prom (Hosted by Campus Sustainability Office), Cornell Energy Days (Hosted by Cornell Energy Systems Club), December Graduation Recognition (Hosted by Environment and Sustainability major), Earth Day Celebration (Hosted by Ecology House), Employee Rewards & Recognition Celebration (Hosted by Facilities & Campus Services), Fall Social (Hosted by Alice Cook House), First-Year Orientation (Hosted by Environment and Sustainability major), International Community Dinner (Hosted by the Office of Global Learning), ProSeminar Speaker Series (Hosted by the Cornell Population Center), Student Sustainability Awards (Hosted by Cornell Environmental Collaborative)