student food event

Green Event Guide

The Green Event Guide was developed by the Penn Sustainability Office to help students, faculty and staff in the Penn community host more ecologically sustainable events. Whether you are hosting a department-wide gathering, a small staff meeting, or lunchtime seminar, it is possible for you to significantly minimize waste and conserve natural resources during your next event.

Using the Green Event Guide and our customizable signage (available at the bottom of this page), any campus event can contribute to the University’s Climate Action Plan 2.0 goal of decreasing our carbon footprint.

Changes to Event Terminology

Due to recent changes in the regional composting industry, many biodegradable products that had previously been used at Zero Waste Events are no longer accepted by our compost hauler. What this means for the University is that we now have to modify how we operate events at which we compost organics. In particular, during catered events, in order to divert the greatest amount from landfill, we must now recommend going to a three-stream system:  a compost bin for food only;  a recycling bin for plastics, bottles, and cans;  and a landfill bin for soiled papers, plates, and utensils. Only food should be going into bins labeled “compost.”

Events with this three-stream system can be longer labelled as “Zero Waste”, as Zero Waste status requires all materials be either recycled or composted. However, the Penn Sustainability Office has created the new Green Event Guide to expand upon waste minimization strategies and provide a broader range of sustainable practices that can be implemented at both small and large events. We encourage your usage of Green Event terminology, and hope you take advantage of our Green Event resources. 


Check out these Green Events! 

Email to to have your green event added to our page. 

Quaker Fest 2013 Green Basketball Game


Quick Facts about composting

1.What should be composted??

All food waste! And only food waste.

2.What shouldn’t be composted?

Styrofoam, plastic bags, metal, plastics, foil, sugar packets, individual ketchup packets or similar sauce packets. Due to recent changes in our regional composting industry, our compost hauler can no longer accept wooden coffee stirrers, compostable cups, bowls, plates and utensils, napkins, paper towels, or compostable garbage bags. Even if these materials say they are compostable, Penn cannot compost them! Read more about changes in Penn’s composting policy.

3.Where do I get a compost bin?

You can repurpose an existing waste container as a compost bin by using a compostable bag liner and clearly marking the content with signage.


Use these printouts at your next Green Event:

Green Event Guide.pdf

Green Event Printout.pdf

Green Event printout-multiple logos.pdf