NCSU Homecoming is certified sustainable

2013 Homecoming is the 126th year of the event.
2013 Homecoming is the 126th year of the event.

One of the nation’s largest student-led homecomings is now a certified sustainable event.

This year’s NC State “Red, White and Wolfpack”-themed Homecoming festivities have earned Wolfpack Certified Green recognition at the highest level. The certification is offered by the University Sustainability Office for events that incorporate sustainable choices involving food, waste reduction, purchasing, education, marketing, transportation, energy, water and service.

NC State’s Alumni Association Student Ambassadors (AASAP), who plan and operate the university’s weeklong Homecoming Celebration, sought the sustainability certification for the first time this year.

“This year the Champion Level sustainability certification quickly became a top priority in our planning process,” said Emily Collier, Co-Director of the 126th Homecoming event. “We were able to adjust previous practices to implement and encourage sustainable actions from ourselves and participants. Through these efforts and modifications, we hope to sustain NC State for 126 more years.”

The students developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the more than 40 events that make up Homecoming.  This year Homecoming will be nearly paperless because of a new mobile app, which among other helpful information includes details on utilizing alternative transit to events.

The most sustainable entry in the Homecoming parade will earn bonus points in the weeklong Spirit competition.
The most sustainable entry in the Homecoming parade will earn bonus points in the weeklong Spirit competition.

At the Homecoming Parade the most sustainable float, which integrates the most materials that can be recycled or reused, will earn bonus points in the week-long Spirit Competition.

To eliminate purchase of single-use items, student planners chose to rent products where applicable and invest in reusable signs and other items that can be utilized every year.  Vegan, vegetarian and healthy food options will be available at select events, and any excess food will be donated. Recycling and composting will be offered, and the Kickoff event will eliminate plastic water bottles in lieu of attendees refilling their own reusable water bottles at centralized water stations.

Several Homecoming events also give back to the community. The Blood Drive on Oct. 29 bolsters regional blood supply while the Hillsborough Street Cleanup on Oct. 31 beautifies a neighboring campus thoroughfare. On Oct. 30, Cupcake War raises money for the Kay Yow Foundation while the Canned Food Drive strives to reach a lofty goal of collecting 16,500 cans for local food shelters. The first 1,000 cans will be donated to the on-campus Feed the Pack food pantry.

“We are thrilled that student Homecoming organizers have embraced sustainability as they planned one of the largest events on campus,” said Lindsay Batchelor, who coordinates the Wolfpack Certified Green program.

Recognized as a national leader in Homecoming planning, AASAP topped 300 other student organizations nationwide to win last year’s “Most Outstanding Tried and True Program” Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.