Join the Movement

There are countless easy changes to make and ways to get involved in zero waste efforts. Keep reading to learn more about ways to join the movement and reduce your environmental impact!

Host a Zero Waste Event

  • Request the zero waste option from Campus Catering
  • Plan for reusable utensils, dishes, and cups, where possible. Check out local TableWare Share for ideas.
  • Refuse individually packaged products (chips, candy bars, sugar, butter, condiments)
  • Order recycling and composting bins provided by Cal Poly event staff
  • Request Zero Waste Ambassador support at your event by emailing

Events at Cal Poly are responsible for a sizeable portion of our consumer waste stream. With proper advance planning and thoughtful ordering, you can help to prevent waste at your next event. Check out our step-by-step guide for hosting a zero waste event.

Download Zero Waste Event Guide here

Become a Zero Waste Ambassador

In 2017, Cal Poly inaugurated the Zero Waste Ambassadors Program, where students volunteer at campus events to instruct their peers on how to recycle and compost properly. In 2017/18, with nearly 150 volunteers, the program reached more than 14,200 attendees at 25 events over seven months and diverted over 3 tons of waste from the landfill. To volunteer as a Zero Waste Ambassador, contact or complete this interest form.

Join Student Initiatives

Past initiatives have included:

  • Zero Waste Ambassadors
  • Improved 3D signage at the Avenue
  • Tabling at events across campus to educate students
  • Recycling Across America standardized signage pilot funded by the Zero Waste Club (eventually spread to entire campus using CalRecycle grant funds)
  • Recyclemania
  • CP Thrift: reusables collected from student Move-Out

Future initiatives include a material reuse depot on campus and a drive to eliminate single-use bottled water and plastic bags from all campus locations. There are many ways that you can participate and support these efforts.

Purchase Sustainably

While not currently cataloged in our climate emissions portfolio, what we purchase makes a dramatic impact upon our environmental footprint. Jurisdictions that count the GHGs from purchasing often find that 50% of their overall climate impact comes from the materials they purchase.

When making a campus purchase, consider green buying guidelines, such as:

  • Avoid single use. Purchase reusable whenever possible (e.g. rechargeable batteries)
  • Buy the best quality you can afford so that the item will last longer and can be reused by others when no longer needed in your department.
  • Look for Green Certifications that tell you the item meets minimum sustainability guidelines. More information about green purchasing and sustainability certifications can be found on the Cal Poly Procurement website.

Use Campus Surplus

To encourage reuse of furniture, equipment, and other materials, Cal Poly operates a surplus program that gathers materials from offices when they are no longer needed, and distributes them, free of charge, to other campus departments.  Items which are not reused on campus are offered to the wider community through an  online surplus equipment sale. The Public Surplus auction site is used to resell surplus equipment such as computers, furniture, lab equipment, light fixtures, tools, vehicles, audio/video equipment, and unclaimed lost and found items.  The program generates approximately $10,000 per month in revenue, which is reinvested in recycling and other sustainability efforts at Cal Poly. To learn more visit the Cal Poly Moving and Surplus site.