CSUMB pilots a new Sustainable Events Blueprint

Juneteenth 2022 | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

A campus event in June 2022 | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

September 22, 2022

By Mark C. Anderson

With each comes opportunity. 

That’s the motivation behind a collaboration between Otter students, staff and faculty that produced a voluntary Sustainable Events Blueprint, approved by the Cabinet in April 2022 as a two-year pilot program. 

Lacey Raak, CSUMB’s sustainability director in the Office of Inclusive Excellence and Sustainability, led the collaboration with the Sustainable Events Working Group  and is familiar with the intended outcomes.

“Events are a way to ensure our sustainable values are brought forth at opportune times” Raak says, “not just showing our [priorities] to one another internally, but to the community.”

The Blueprint's user-friendly format makes it easy for organizers planning events large and small. It includes both a pre- and post-event checklist and sustainable resources. The Blueprint is easily located on the University Affairs, Ceremonies, and Events webpage.

“It makes sense for the Blueprint to have a home on the special events page. Events are what we do 365 days a year and we’re dedicated to making all campus events more sustainable,” said Phyllis Grillo, Director of Events and co-chair of the Sustainable Events Working Group. A peek at the Blueprint language gets into the why and the how of making it happen.

The why, per Blueprint language: “Hosting a sustainable event is crucial for setting the tone of your event and ensuring the campus values are reflected at all internal and external events. It's our responsibility to be considerate of the resources and legacy we leave behind […] even the smallest events can have an impact.”

The how: a pre-event rundown with guidelines, built-in rating system, and notes on limiting and managing waste. A post-event checklist is also being developed. 

“It’s so much more than zero waste,” Raak says. “[The Blueprint] looks at food, items being bought, how people are being included—in terms of inclusion and diversity—transportation and more.”

The other big part of the process will be greater collaboration: The Blueprint is part of a pilot program that depends on event-minded organizations testing out the resources it provides and sharing feedback.

“We want to get as many people as possible to try it, then we can continue to refine the process,” Raak says. “You don’t have to be extremely knowledgeable on sustainability. It opens up the playing field for anyone to integrate this work.” 

The Blueprint offers an Otter-style reminder that, in the end, attention to seemingly small details—compost bins, campus land acknowledgements and meat-free food options among them—lead to big picture progress. 

Jeff Rensel, co-chair of the Sustainable Events Working Group, adds, “We encourage individuals and groups to help make a meaningful impact by participating in this program for events they are hosting on-campus.” 

Like Raak says: “When the stars align and people work together, meaningful action can happen.” 

One event at a time.

For more information, see the Sustainable Events Blueprint.