Campus Sustainability Initiatives

Bailey Greenhouse
Published On: April 13, 2020

Michigan State University (MSU) bleeds green, so Residential and Hospitality Services (RHS) strives to be as green (i.e. sustainable) as it can be! RHS has been putting its greenest foot forward for years through initiatives like Pack Up. Pitch In. and Clean Plates at State. The division also prioritizes educating Spartans on how to make better choices to preserve our environment and help it prosper. For example, within every residence hall bathroom, you’ll find a sticker suggesting cutting shower times in half and not leaving the water on while brushing teeth or shaving, among other actions that can help our residents makes “green” choices.

These helpful suggestions are just the tip of the sustainability iceberg. There are so many opportunities for Spartans to uphold our value of social responsibility.


Pack Up. Pitch In.
The Pack Up. Pitch In. program is an important part of moving out of the residence halls. This program was created 23 years ago to divert students’ unwanted items from landfills and instead provide a way for residents to properly recycle materials and repurpose those items before they depart from campus. Residents are encouraged to donate non-perishable food and personal care items to local food banks and organizations.

Clean Plates at State: A Food Waste Audit
Clean Plates at State (CPAS) helps put environmental sustainability into perspective for campus diners, encouraging them to take simple steps to avoid wasting food. The main goal is to determine the amount of post-consumer food waste at MSU dining halls and analyze its implications for Culinary Services. Through our partnerships with academics, this program enhances the student experience by expanding students’ opportunities to learn and increase their enrichment of community, economic and sustainable living.

Sparty’s Plastic Bag Ban
Campus retail locations such as Sparty’s, Sparty’s Market and Starbucks no longer use plastic bags. Spartans are asked to use reusable bags if they’re planning to stock up at these locations.

One of the first topics to come to mind when someone says “sustainability” is recycling. Luckily, MSU has a slew of recycle stations, allowing Spartans to cut down on their landfill output. Color-coded signs indicate which bin is for which material: white and mixed paper, newspaper, cardboard and boxboard, magazines, books, catalogs, directories, plastics #1-7, household metal, and glass. These can be found in every building on campus, not just in our residence halls. It’s an MSU initiative that starts with students moving on campus.


RISE (Residential Initiative on the Study of Environment)
RISE is an interdisciplinary living-learning program focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship. Everyone knows the transition from high school to college can be incredibly difficult, so MSU tries to make the transition easier. RISE participants are engaged in undergraduate research, hands-on projects and co-curricular initiatives in which they can explore their interests within a supportive community of students, faculty and staff with shared values. If Spartans are interested, they must be a freshman living in Bailey Hall in Brody Neighborhood. While this is a competitive program, it’s a great way to get involved on campus if you enjoy sustainability. Learn more at

Bailey GREENhouse & Urban Farm
A partnership between RHS, the Department of Community Sustainability, RISE and the Student Organic Farm in 2012 resulted in the Bailey GREENhouse and Urban Farm. This passive solar greenhouse (also known as a hoophouse) is intended for numerous student projects. What makes the farm so unique is that it has been designated the first organic no-spray zone of MSU’s campus; no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are permitted on site. Even more than just being an amazing garden, this offers fresh food for the community. In the summer, there are blueberries, strawberries, apples, pears, etc., and in the winter there are salad mix, herbs and spinach. This is currently located in the Brody complex. Learn more at

MSU Student Organic Farm
Ever wonder where some of the fresh fruits and vegetables in the dining halls come from? Well, here’s the answer: the MSU Student Organic Farm! This is a 15-acre certified-organic farm that contributes heavily to MSU’s campus and sustainability goals. The farm also operates the eight-month Organic Farmer Training Program in year-round organic farming focusing on diversified production of vegetables, flowers, fruits and herbs for local markets. This farm not only provides fresh fruits and veggies, it also provides education through internships and learning activities. This is a great way to get involved with other sustainability projects on campus. Learn more at


Eat Local
Of all the food grown in the U.S., up to 40% is lost between production and harvest, in storage handling, packaging/processing, distribution and retail. Ten percent of the U.S.’ energy budget is used annually to produce our food. When we eat locally, we're not just supporting local farmers; we may be keeping the water used to grow that food within our watershed. MSU Culinary Services chooses local food sources – another reason dining on campus is a sustainable choice.

Trayless Dining
Several of MSU’s dining halls are already “trayless,” meaning guests are limited to what they can carry. This allows students and guests to make more practical choices regarding what they take, ideally making them more mindful about potentially wasting food. But just because a dining hall has trays, doesn’t mean Spartans have to use them! Going trayless not only helps reduce food waste but also helps to conserve water and save energy. A recent audit of the dining halls shows that between 53-57% of students are already choosing to go trayless!

Reusable Water Bottles
Spartans are encouraged to carry a reusable water bottle with them on campus. MSU has installed filtered water bottle refill stations across campus as a sustainable response to the campus community’s concerns with MSU’s drinking water. Spartans can find the nearest water bottle filling stations at

Fare-free CATA Rides on Campus
The CATA on-campus bus service is fare-free to all students, faculty and staff. There are stops scattered throughout campus and near each residence hall for students’ convenience. Using public transit helps reduce pollution, so taking the bus is a smart choice for any Spartan. Fare-free rides for weekday service include routes 30, 31, 32, 33, 38 and 39; and weekend service on routes 34, 35 and 36.

Become an Eco Rep!
Eco Reps are students who care about sustainability and the betterment of their campus. In order to be considered, Spartans must be a current undergraduate student, live on campus, have a passion for the environment, and be an engaged, innovative, outgoing and self-motivated person. Eco Reps help to coordinate and facilitate sustainability events, educate others, help implement sustainable practices in their building and monitor recycling stations in their building. Eco Reps also receive a stipend for doing this! Interested Spartans should email