November 02, 2023

Fall into a Sustainable Autumn

The Student Life & Engagement (SLE) Sustainability Office is enjoying a fall promoting and advancing environmental stewardship throughout the community! SLE strives to ensure MSU's long-term sustainability through innovative and balanced strategies that support stewardship, fiscal responsibility and partnership. 

With the days getting chillier, autumn is a season when the community is looking for fun activities, making it the perfect time to remind Spartans of sustainability resources on campus as well as their individual responsibility to help keep campus green. Read on to learn all about the division’s fall partnerships.

Pumpkin Plop

When fall rolls around, students put down their pencils and pick up their carving utensils, visiting local pumpkin patches to find the perfect pumpkin to carve to enjoy throughout the season. By the end of October, MSU’s residence halls are filled with spooky and playful jack-o’-lanterns that can be admired the entire season. 
But what happens when jack-o’-lantern season comes to an end? Believe it or not there is an easy and sustainable option for disposing of pumpkins offered right on campus! Nov. 1-19, the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center (SSRC) hosts the Pumpkin Plop!

The Pumpkin Plop is a sustainable event started in 2019 by MSU students. The SSRC sets up a large bin where Spartans can toss (or plop!) their old pumpkins (as well as squash, gourds, seeds and other pumpkin guts) at the Drop-off Center. Accommodations can even be made for collecting pumpkin guts from residence hall-related carving events, such as Fall Fest (read on for more info on the recent event).

SSRC then takes the material and composts it in the campus vermicompost center, along with leaves and food waste from the dining halls, to produce nutrient-rich soil. 

Vermicomposting specifically composts using red wiggler worms, converting organic material into a nutrient-rich soil suitable for farms and gardens. The resulting soil is packaged and sold through the MSU Surplus Store as Grow Green Vermicompost. The process compliments the campus Anaerobic Digester Project, which is designated to handle post-consumer food remains.

MSU’s vermicomposting site can be found in two hoop houses at SSRC. Here, along with the Pumpkin Plop materials, organic waste is collected year-long from the back-of-house operations at residential dining facilities, Sparty's coffee shops and select offices on campus. 

Learn more about MSU’s favorite creepy crawlers and the program here.

Don’t Miss the Screening of “Plastic Wars”

Thursday, Nov. 16, from 3:30-6 p.m., SSRC will host a film screening and panel discussion of “Plastic Wars,” a Frontline documentary that's sure to spark conversation. 
Aired in 2020, “Plastic Wars” highlights the history of plastic pollution and reminds viewers of its relationship to the oil industry. In doing so, the film illustrates the challenges consumers face when trying to reduce single use plastics — an action that runs counter to the profit motives of oil companies. 

The free event, held in partnership with SLE and its Eco Reps (students who care about sustainability and the betterment of their campus and serve as peer-to-peer educators for MSU students), takes place in the MSU Recycling material recovery facility (MRF), where 6-to-8 million pounds of recyclables are processed every year. Before and after the film, attendees will have the opportunity to explore the MRF and see how MSU processes campus recyclables before shipping them to local and regional vendors for conversion into post-consumer recycled content.

Attendees are encouraged to RSVP here.

Previous Events

Fall Fest 

A fun-filled and sustainable time was had by all at the annual Fall Fest, which took place Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Surplus Store and Recycling Center. Guests enjoyed upcycle crafting, compost and recycling tours, music, raffles and pumpkin carving, during which, guests received a pumpkin to carve by bringing a nonperishable food item to support the MSU Student Food Bank.

Music was provided by MSU’s own Impact 89FM. Reflecting on the fun event, Impact 89FM Radio Station Program Manager Jeremy Whiting shared, “It's a great time DJing for events at the Recycling Center and Surplus Store! We love what they do, and it's great to be able to support them. We're also frequent shoppers. It's fun to stop by on Fridays to see what deals we can get for the radio station at their open store days.”

DIY Halloween Costumes Upcycle Event

On Friday, Oct. 27, Spartan Upcycle invited MSU students to a Halloween costume-making event at the MSU Surplus Store & Recycling Center. With the spooky season well underway, many people run to fast fashion companies to find cheap costumes for Halloween. While this may be convenient, there are social and environmental costs to fast fashion often hidden to the consumer. 

A cost-effective and eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion can be found in upcycling unused material to create a one-of-kind costume! Spartan Upcycle encouraged participants to do just that by providing various textiles, secondhand clothes, cardboard and odds-n-ends for repurposing. With these resources, students were able make an assortment of upcycled costumes, including a punk-rock Barbie, Arthur (from the children’s books and show), a wedding gown, a funky clown hat, ghost, spider web/cape combo, cat ears and more.

One student, Liz (Arthur costume made from cardboard, paint and a headband), remarked that she liked the upcycle option because then she avoids buying “something that will go to waste.” Another student, Rose, hadn't been sure how she was going to get her two costumes completed. She was shopping at the Surplus Store and saw the event was taking place. “It was so much fun,” she said, while holding the wedding gown she made by sewing a top and making a skirt from layers of tulle tied to an elastic waistband.


For more information about SLE’s impact, visit the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center's website

Need more information regarding SLE’s sustainable practices in the residence halls, dining halls and retail? Contact SLE Sustainability Officer Carla Iansiti at

Spartan helmet