Relaunch of Sustainable Events at Columbia in Honor of Earth Month

As events and in-person activities resume on campus, there are resources available to you to ensure your preparations support the University’s commitment to sustainability.

April 22, 2022

The Sustainable Event Guidelines published in Plan 2030 are available for anyone to use in planning events, activities, or meetings. There are also opportunities to join the sustainable events community where you can connect with others around sustainable practices, commit to applying these guidelines in your operation, and see how Columbia’s key events departments are leading the way.

Please review our guide before you plan your activities.

Some highlights from the guide include:

  • Minimize food waste by ordering slightly less food than your expected attendance to account for attrition
  • Eliminate beef and choose vegetarian options, foods that have a higher associated greenhouse gas profile
  • Continue to offer hybrid events to minimize required travel-associated emissions
  • Order pitchers of water instead of single use water bottles to minimize plastic waste and avoid an upcharge
  • Make your event “plastic water bottle free” and communicate to guests in advance to bring their own beverage containers
  • Provide no printed copies at events and provide digital documents instead to cut back on paper waste

Take action and lead with us!

Sign our Sustainable Events Pledge and sign up for our mailing list.

  • Click here to support Columbia’s sustainable events policy and be published as a committed school, department, or office on Sustainable Columbia’s website.

  • In your role at Columbia do you help plan events, activities, or meetings? You can subscribe to our email listserv where you can ask questions, learn about best practices, and contribute your own ideas about hosting sustainable events.

Key Columbia events departments are leading the way to make every event a sustainable event.

Columbia Dining commits to continue and expand:

  • Composting in Ferris Booth and John Jay Dining Halls, in place since 2014
  • Compostable plates, flatware, cups, etc. in all Dining locations
  • 56% local purchasing
  • Support, mentorship, and purchasing through the Harlem Local Vendor Program
  • Green Restaurant Certification for all Columbia Dining Units
  • Eco to Go reusable containers in all you care to eat facilities, in place since 2008
  • Tray-less operations since 2008, reducing food waste
  • Energy Star purchasing standards for all equipment
  • Transition to building fully electric kitchens at Manhattanville starting with Site 1 location
  • Serving and promoting vegan and vegetarian alternatives in all Dining locations
  • Partnership with Menus of Change University Research Collaborative
  • Adhere to Sustainable Event Guidelines

Event Management (EM) commits to:

  • Eliminate disposable plates, utensils, etc. for EM catered events in Lerner Hall by 2025
  • Provide compost stations at EM catered events at Lerner, Faculty House, and outdoor events by 2024
  • Release additional EM Sustainable Catering Menu options in 2022
  • To-go containers to be made available on request to assist with repurposing of leftover food
  • Adhere to Sustainable Event Guidelines

Commencement Office commits to:

  • Feature water stations at Commencement (no plastic water bottles provided)
  • Adhere to Sustainable Event Guidelines

Thank you for joining our initiative to lead more sustainable events.

Jessica M. Prata, Assistant Vice President, Office of Environmental Stewardship

Scott J. Wright, Vice President, Campus Services