Celebrating Sustainapalooza 2016

Laurelin: Hello, everyone! Madi and I are back to introduce our guest blogger, Lauren!

Madi: Lauren is an Honors student working with the Live Green! Initiative this semester, and we’re very happy to have her help covering Sustainapalooza!

Laurelin: Before we dive into Lauren’s article, we’d first like to take a moment to thank the volunteers, tabling organizations, poster session participants, and GIY station leaders who worked behind the scenes to make Sustainapalooza possible!

Madi: And we’d like to give a special thank you to The Green Umbrella! Their passion and enthusiasm for sustainability were really the driving force behind the entire event!

Laurelin: Now let’s welcome Lauren!


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The theme of Sustainapalooza 2016 was “One World, Green World.”

My name is Lauren Young, and I’m so excited to be guest posting on the the Live Green! blog. I am currently a freshman with an Open Option major. As an Honors student, I was given the opportunity to be a part of the First Year Mentors Program, which pairs up students with mentors at the university to participate in research projects. With the help of my mentor, Merry Rankin, I have been doing research on sustainability, writing articles for the newsletter, and attending this year’s Sustainapalooza.

This annual event take place in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union to promote sustainability at Iowa State. Tons of tables, posters, volunteers, food, and crafts are brought in, and anyone is welcome to come.

This was my first year attending and volunteering at Sustainapalooza. I showed up a little before my volunteering shift as the hustle of set up was beginning to die down. I grabbed my name tag and went to my station at the giveaway table. Scanning the room as I waited for the event to start, I looked at all the stands and activities lining the walls of the Great Hall. Each station was manned by smiling volunteers who all looked excited to get started.

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Giveaways included energy-saving car chargers and reusable basil planters.

In front of me lay the giveaways to promote sustainability. When an event advertises anything with the word “free,” people are bound to show up – if only for the giveaways. There were energy-saving car chargers and adorable little grow-your-own basil kits. As people starting making their way around the room, I began handing out the giveaways. And I must say, I have never seen grown men get so excited about tiny pots of basil seeds.

Volunteering was fun because it allowed me to see the event from another perspective and interact with the students and faculty members that meandered their way over to my table. When I was done with my shift, I turned in my name tag and started my rounds as a participant this time. My bag started to fill with samples and pamphlets as I discovered all kinds of new things about sustainability.

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Volunteers learned how to upcycle old shirts at the T-Shirt Bag GIY station.

I loved learning and smelling all the essential oils that can be used in natural cleaning products and learning how to mend old clothes. These were part of the GIY  (“Green-It-Yourself”), and they included ways to be more green in easy ways you can do yourself.

Of course, what eventually caught my eye, as a typical hungry college student, was the long table full of food. I picked up a reusable plate filled it with delicious and diverse snacks. All of the food featured local and/or healthy ingredients. Armed with some sustenance, I continued exploring.

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Sustainaplaooza refreshments featured items with local and/or healthy ingredients. Reusable cutlery and dishware were used, and all food waste and napkins were composted.

One of the focal points of the room was the Green Wall. A crowd of people holding markers gathered around the wall, and visitors were allowed to write on all the different parts of the wall. I spent a few minutes walking around just reading all of the connections, ideas, and commitments people had made for a more sustainable future. It was a really unique way to promote and spread a very sustainable message.

My favorite part of the event was visiting the Clothing Swap GIY station. Tons of lightly used clothes had been donated, and as a fashion lover it was fun shopping through all the treasures. People who donated items could use those as an exchange for different clothes. Food or cash donations to The S.H.O.P. (Students Helping Our Peers), an on-campus student food pantry, could also be used as payment. The various clothing racks included everything from a classic red pea coat to cool retro handbags.

Next I walked through each of the posters and tables representing different organizations from the community. Both of on- and off-campus groups were invited, and it was great to see that such diverse clubs and companies were all tied together through sustainability. I stopped and talked with someone from Happy Strong Healthy, a new student organization at Iowa State. They’ve created a really interesting magazine that promotes personal sustainability through both mental and physical health. After tossing my leftover food into the compost bin, I left the event with a bag full of all-natural laundry detergents and granola bars.

Overall, there was such a fun and positive energy during Sustainapalooza. All ages gathered together to share their experiences and learn more about sustainability. People walked around with their friends laughing and smiling, and I could tell that the event was a blast for everyone that came out. I smiled when I came home and saw my roommate had put a potted basil plant on our windowsill.

Sustainapalooza by the Numbers: 

  • 400+ participants enjoyed Sustainapalooza
  • 363 clothing items were donated to the Sustainapalooza clothing swap
  • 63 volunteers worked behind the scenes to prepare the event
  • 35 on and off-campus organizations and initiatives highlighted their sustainablility efforts and accomplishments through posters and tabling
  • 13 Green Umbrella members worked for months to organize Sustainapalooza
  • 1 amazing event!
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The Green Umbrella poses for a picture at the Sustainapalooza Celebrity Wall.


Written by: Lauren Young
Edited by: Madi VanGundy and Laurelin Haas
Photos by: Grace Lee and Lauren Young

For more photos of the event, check out the Live Green! and The Green Umbrella Facebook pages!

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