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Student organizations and the activities that they provide are an integral part of campus life. Occasionally, these student activities can have unintended consequences for the environment. When planning student activities, please be aware of any environmental impacts.  If there is any risk, please email stormwater@ehs.unc.edu or call 919-962-5507 early for help planning how to mitigate environmental impacts.

Printable Handouts for Popular Student Activities

Prohibited Activities

  • Balloon Releases. Pieces of balloons will end up in streams and lakes and will be mistaken for food by turtles and other wildlife. Balloons marketed as biodegradable can still take more than four years to break down in the environment.
  • Any activity using a chemical that will enter a storm drain, including “green” chemicals, dish soap, etc.
  • Any activity that requires chemicals during the clean-up process.
  • Any project requiring permanent or semi-permanent adhesive on an outside surface.
  • Most activities requiring pressure-washing.

Colored Dye Going to a Stream

Incorporating Environmental Compliance Into Student-Led Outdoor Events

  1. Is there a possibility that any of the materials will be released into the environment? Examples from past activities include food waste, litter, colored water or powdered dye, plastics from balloons or novelty items, dish soap, paint and chalk.
  2. If there is a risk of environmental impact, and as required by the organization sponsoring the event, please contact EHS at 919-962-5507 at the beginning of the planning phase.
  3. Consider whether an alternative material can be used to reduce environmental harm.
  4. Analyze each step of the process:
    • Can the activity be contained to a small area, for example by using fencing or caution tape?
    • Can the materials be prevented from entering storm drains?
    • What will be involved in the clean-up process? Is that included in the activity’s budget?
    • Have you checked that your activity complies with the University’s illicit discharge policy?
Colorful Runners
Student Union Paint Cart
Student Union Chalk
Cube Painting at Student Union

Remember that your organization can set the example and help determine whether similar events will be allowed in the future. UNC students are committed to environmental protection and certainly would like to be positive examples for the campus and surrounding community.