Welcome Week Packed With Sustainability-Certified Events

When nearly a thousand NC State students, parents and family members gather on Aug. 11 for the welcome lunch jointly hosted by WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) and EcoVillage living and learning communities, sustainability will be front and center.

“Literally everything an attendee sits down to eat with will be composted,” said Meghan Teten, director of the EcoVillage.

Everything from cups and cutlery to plates and napkins will be collected in composting bins and shipped to a nearby composting facility for decomposition into nutrient-rich soil amendment that’s used in gardens, lawns and other landscaping. Event organizers are also offering recycling opportunities, resulting in an event that sends minimal waste to the landfill. After the event, another campus organization will reuse the tables, chairs and tablecloths.

“These efforts demonstrate our commitment to sustainability from day one,” Teten said.

University Recreation's RecFest is expected to draw 10,000 students to Miller Fields.
University Recreation’s RecFest is expected to draw 10,000 students to Miller Fields.

This welcome lunch is one of several events during NC State’s Wolfpack Welcome Week that have achieved Wolfpack Certified Sustainable status for sustainable event planning efforts in the areas of food, waste, purchasing, education, marketing, transportation, energy, water and service.

Offered by the University Sustainability Office, the event certification awards points for actions such as purchasing or renting reusable materials, appointing a sustainability coordinator and utilizing digital promotion. Buying local food or materials, creating a waste management plan, reducing energy and water use, and promoting wellness also garners points toward three levels of certification: Contributor, Steward and Champion.

Additional points are awarded for innovations specific to the event such as the Aug. 15 Moonlight Howl and Run 5K, which will serve watermelon grown on campus at NC State’s Agroecology Education Farm and will compost the rinds and other food waste.

Reusable signage is just one of the ways Packapalooza strives for sustainability in event planning.
Reusable signage is just one of the ways Packapalooza strives for sustainability in event planning.

At Packapalooza, the university’s all-day block party and street festival on Aug. 22, a free mobile app reduces the need for printed event information and numerous filtered water stations enable easy refilling of reusable water bottles in lieu of disposable plastic bottles.

“We are committed to celebrating NC State in a sustainable manner,” said Packapalooza planning team member Megan Winzeler, who is also the communications and media specialist for NC State’s Office of International Affairs. “A major feature of the event includes a ‘Green Zone,’ where we are showcasing how the university is leading the way to sustainability. The goal of the zone is to promote the conservation of natural environments, sustainable living and healthy lifestyles through interactive learning and tangible takeaways.”

Other certified Wolfpack Welcome Week events include University Recreation’s RecFest on Aug. 13, Inter-Residence Council’s (IRC) Silent Disco on Aug. 19, and Grillin’ and Chillin’, which is jointly hosted by IRC and the Interfraternity Council on Aug. 16.

“Collectively Wolfpack Welcome Week will be attended by thousands of people and it’s exciting that sustainability has been adopted as a core value in the planning of many events,” said Lindsay Batchelor, a program development coordinator in the University Sustainability Office. “In addition to embodying stewardship of natural and economic resources, the certification of these events advances NC State’s ongoing sustainability efforts.”