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Michigan State University

What it means to be "Spartan Green"

Happy Earth Day

What it means to be "Spartan Green"

At MSU, sustainability is in our roots. This Earth Day, we celebrate the many ways Spartans are advancing solutions to protect and preserve our environment on campus year-round and around the globe.

As a Gold-rated university for sustainability achievements, Spartans are forward-thinking problem-solvers and active agents for making our Earth a better and more sustainable place. 


  • National Leader: In 2019, MSU achieved its first Gold rating for sustainability through the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Reporting System, becoming one of three gold-rated institutions in Michigan. MSU received its second Gold STARS rating in 2022 and is currently the highest-rated institution in the state. 

  • Bicycle-Friendly University: MSU’s campus is a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly University with over 20 miles of bike lanes and paths on campus, community education and rental opportunities.  

  • Buildings: Over the last five years, MSU completed the construction of three green buildings, including the Gold-LEED-certified Minskoff Pavilion, the Silver-LEED-certified 1855 Place and the award-winning STEM Teaching and Learning Facility.

  • Recycling: MSU’s premier LEED Gold-certified Surplus Store and Recycling Center (SSRC) strives to use waste as a resource through an integrated system of reuse, recycling and collaboration. 


Spartans around the globe are making an impact on the Earth in their daily lives. Through volunteerism, research and making daily sustainable choices, alumni exhibit their commitment to being “Spartan Green.” 

Volunteerism: Spartans make a difference in their communities year-round. Spartans Serve is an initiative that allows Spartans to plan service projects and recruit volunteers, many of which have a direct impact on our Earth. Here are some ways in which alumni clubs around the globe have found creative and sustainable ways to impact their communities. 

One Spartan passing a box of food to another person
Detroit Spartans
Two Spartans passing out water at a marathon
Indy Spartans
Three Spartans on a beach holding a Spartan flag
Greater NYC Spartans
Two Spartans sorting craft equipment
Genesee County Spartans
The Spartans picking up trash outside
Colorado Spartans

Alumni Stories: There are countless stories of Spartans providing world-changing solutions to issues around the Earth and sustainability. 

  • Shakara Tyler earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Community Sustainability in 2019. She has been dedicated to helping underserved communities in Detroit find their way to food sovereignty. She’s the board president of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and a co-founder of the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund.  

“Growing up, I wasn’t the prototypical urban child,” she says. “I was always drawn to the natural environment around me, hugging trees, digging in soil for worms and studying the cycles of the moon.” 

Read more here.


  • Hayley Betker finds a home for her environmentalist sensibilities by conducting research with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Earning an environmental engineering degree from MSU in 2014, Betker was stationed in Honolulu in 2018, and ventured to Jarvis Island with a team of scientists and NOAA personnel. 

“In one trip, I saw the beauty of nature and the urgent need to protect it,” Betker said. 

Read more here.


  • John Kinch is working to help the people, government, businesses, and communities adopt more energy efficiency and renewable energy. As the executive director of Michigan Energy Options (MEO), a clean energy nonprofit, he is putting his degree from MSU to work. Kinch earned his Ph.D. in American Studies with a focus in Environmental Studies from MSU in 1996.  

“Energy today is not just what the utility is providing you at a particular price point,” he said. “It is a subject that we need to be informed about because choices made today have global ramifications.” 

Read more here.



Campus: MSU continues to be a leader in research and education around sustainability.  

Students: MSU students around campus are working to make sustainability improvements. When asked what Earth Day means to them, here’s what they had to say: 

"Every small action matters. When we all take small changes—like using less water—we can make a huge impact on the world.”

- Charles Grace Jr., MSU College of Music, MSU Eco Rep

“All actions have consequences. I believe everyone can implement sustainability practices in their daily lives. It is so important for students to have sustainability habits now as it becomes a routine for the future.”

-Dani Vincent, MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Student Life and Engagment Sustainablity Assistant

“Earth Day is a chance to celebrate the beauty of the planet we live on and share ways—both big and small—to keep it beautiful.”

- Yasmine Walker, MSU College of Social Science, MSU Eco Rep

Support: As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day, join fellow Spartans by supporting the people and programs at MSU who are building a more sustainable future on campus and around the world.  

Learn more here.


If you’re interested in getting involved with some of the Earth Day service projects or funding opportunities, there are many opportunities.

View service projects here.

View areas of support here.