Students walking through the St. Paul Display and Trial Garden


On-campus and in our community, there are many ways to make active decisions about the choices you make in your daily life and to raise awareness for sustainability! Turn off the lights, use recycling and compost bins, and keep your reusable water bottle and food containers on hand. Our collective decisions get us one step closer to conserving natural resources and ensuring a healthier, more equal, and sustainable life for all.

Consider these ideas to reduce your environmental footprint when planning meetings, conferences, and events at the University. You don’t need to check every box to make a difference. The starred items will make the biggest impact.

Sustainable Event Checklist

Early Planning

⭐ Does this event need to be in person? Consider remote and streaming tools to reduce waste

⬜ Designate a Sustainability Coordinator on your team for the event or meeting

⬜ Contact Facilities Management 1-2 weeks in advance to coordinate zero and low waste event services

⬜ Purchase carbon offsets or make offsets part of your event registration process

Venue & Lodging

⭐ Take advantage of venues that provide compost services

⬜ Choose venues that are LEED certified, like Bruininks Hall

⬜ Use the U’s Building Energy Dashboards to find a venue with a low energy footprint

⬜ Explore on-campus lodging to limit attendee transportation and save money

⬜ Choose hotels that reduce their environmental impact


⬜ Use bike racks and bike share locations and make bike repair kits available

⬜ Encourage guests to carpool or recommend a carpool service

⬜ Promote campus and mass transit options, especially walking

⬜ Consider discounts or recognition for guests who use transit or alternative transportation


⬜ Distribute materials digitally to save money and paper

⬜ Use recycled paper for signs and badges and avoid shipping waste with UMN Printing Services

⬜ Avery recycled name tags cost under $0.10/each if bought through UMN

⬜ Have latex gloves, compost and garbage bags, and sanitizer on hand for cleanup

⬜ Do not provide swag that’s single-use or likely thrown away

⬜ If swag is a must, make it opt-in during event registration and consider reusable items

⬜ Consider non-material gifts — thanks, recognition, experiences, photographs


⭐ Contact vendors that offer zero-waste catering services

⭐ Talk to your vendors about sustainability priorities

⬜ Order biodegradable cups, plates, and utensils

⬜ Opt for plant-based, vegetarian catered food

⬜ Provide water from jugs or coolers rather than plastic bottles

⬜ Encourage participants to bring their own reusable water bottles

⬜ Avoid individually-wrapped food items and buy condiments in bulk

⬜ Call a licensed hunger-relief organization to donate leftovers: 

⬜ Label your trash, recycling, and compost bins (this site has bilingual labels)

  • Monitor waste stations so that waste ends up in the correct container
  • Empty bins often to reduce insect and odors

Attendees & Guests

⬜ Thank everyone who took “green” transit to the event

⬜ Provide clear sustainability expectations (where and how to use compost, recycling, etc.)

⬜ Share your sustainability work with your guests, including links to resources you used

⬜ Conduct a sustainability retrospective and share your results with your team or attendees