November: Buying Green

It’s Molly and Maddie back for our fourth month celebrating Iowa State University’s ten-year anniversary of the Live Green! Initiative!!

Molly: “I am so excited for this month of our 10 Years of Living Green! Celebration”

Maddie: “Me too! We’re celebrating Buying Green!”

Molly: “Plus, November is a great shopping month with Black Friday sales and the month of Small Business Saturday.”

Maddie: “Yes, I can’t wait! Let’s (shop till we) drop into our blog about buying green at a university level and personal level. Here we go!!”

Shopping Small for Big Impacts

Did you know $73 for every $100 spent at a local business stays in our community? It is pretty amazing what shopping locally can do for a community. Beyond adding inimitable personal touches to a community, small businesses are amazing economic forces. Additionally, nonprofits and local causes, on the average, receive 250% more support from small businesses compared to larger ones. We are pretty lucky in Ames to have such a wide variety of small businesses. Which was recently highlighted in a recent Livability article, noting Ames as the #2 best college town – due to a number of unique experiences and opportunities, including “tons of cute locally-owned shops and restaurants”.

 Buy Green! Shop Local! at our “Sust-Ames” Event!

To celebrate buying green through shopping local, we are SO excited to partner with Ames Downtown and the Campustown Action Association and host a ‘Sust-Ames Shop Local Day’, on Saturday, November 10. With the holiday shopping season officially here and ISU students on break the week of Small Business Saturday, we planned a day to offer the ISU and Ames communities the perfect opportunity to shop sustainably through shopping local! “Sust-Ames” is a part of this year’s annual City of Ames’ Snow Magic festivities and will follow the Downtown Ames Snow Magic Kick Off on Friday, November 9th.


On Saturday, November 10th ONLY, you can take advantage of these “Sust-Ames” specials at these participating businesses:

….and MANY more businesses and discounts to come!

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For every store you visit, when shopping during the “Sust-Ames” event, make sure to sign-up at the store check-out areas to win unique local shopping gift packages put together by participating businesses. In addition, shoppers will receive FREE reusable and “pouchable” shopping bags made from recycled water bottles (while supplies last).

Cyclones Buying Forward

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP), or Green Purchasing, refers to the procurement of products and services that have a reduced effect on human health and the environment, when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.For this month, dedicated to Buying Green, it is so exciting to highlight Iowa State University’s dedicated efforts in green and sustainable purchases encompassing recycled content, recyclable, compostable, reusable, energy efficient and locally sourced products and services as well as “take back” options for products at the end of their useful life. In addition, the implementation of a Vendor Code of Ethics as well as paperless purchasing offers additional sustainable commitment to providing goods and services to ISU.

Iowa State University constantly strives to find the greenest way to ensure our purchases assist our collective efforts toward a sustainable future.

Here are some examples included on our green shopping list:

  • At Iowa State University 94% of purchased office paper is made from 90-100% post-consumer recycled materials.
  • More than 95% of all university cleaning supplies are third party green-certified.
  • Local landscape stock is prioritized for all plantings on the ISU campus, with 100% of all plantings being procured locally in 2017.
  • Of ISU formally bid construction contracts, 85% have been awarded to Iowa companies.
  • Graduates of Iowa State University have the option of graduating in gowns made from recycled water bottles.
  • The Iowa State University Bookstore provides an option of purchasing e-books or (most recently) obtaining course materials through immediate access on Canvas. This option offers the student a cost break as well as saves on resources encountered with traditional books.
  • ISU Surplus offers a redistribution opportunity for unneeded university assets to other departments and through public sales as an alternative for landfilling.
  • ISU Dining is committed to offering students, faculty and staff a diversity of dining experiences through the purchase of organic, alternatively-produced and local agricultural products, including thousands of pounds of vegetables from the Horticulture Research Station.

Summer Buying Green

As noted above, no matter the time of year nor the product or service on the shopping list, Iowa State gives dedicated consideration to allow students, faculty and staff to buy green, professionally and personally.

An especially unique buying green opportunity for students happens each summer – offering a great outlet for unwanted items when moving out and finding low-cost items when moving in. Rummage RAMPage, finishing its third year in 2018, is a community sale designed to keep reusable items from being landfilled. A partnership between the ISU Office of Sustainability and the City of Ames, the event highlights commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability. In 2018, environmentally, the sale diverted 102,500 pounds of gently-used and very usable furniture and housewares from being landilled, as these items are not beneficial fuel for the City in producing electricity through a system that combines processed (beneficial fuel) garbage and natural gas. Economically, with most items priced between $1 and $40, from couches to toasters, move-in budgets could stretch that much further for ISU students. Socially, all event earnings, a total of $18,607, were given to local non-profit agencies who provided volunteers to work at the event. In addition, items including linens, bedding, clothing, books, nonperishable food, and school supplies were collected at the event and donated to community organizations whose missions focused on redirecting these supplies to individuals and causes.


Rummage RAMPage 2018 by the Numbers

Specific impacts… both diverting items from the waste stream and providing for our community include the following:

  • More than 5,000 pounds of housewares, electronics, and kitchen items donated and sold.
  • More than 22,000 pounds of side chairs, coffee tables, dining room tables, kitchen tables, and office chairs donated and sold.
  • More than 1,500 pounds of clothing and shoes donated to Goodwill.
  • Approximately 1,000 pounds of linens donated to the Ames Animal Shelter.
  • Less than two percent of all donated items were landfilled (after fully vetting donation, reuse or recycling options).

Rummage RAMPage is set for July 28 – August 3. Save the Date! And… Save your Stuff to donate!!

Clubs Supporting Buying Green  

There are a number of ways to support buying green, as is illustrated in Iowa State’s diverse and comprehensive commitment. This diversity extends to the commitment made by ISU student organizations – both in their personal consideration of the materials and services they purchase to further and fulfill their missions and the focus of their missions and goals. To exhibit this impressive and impactful creativity, two student organizations are highlighted this month.

Charting a Sustainable Course

When thinking about buying green through buying local, small businesses often come to mind. Which brings to mind the Entrepreneurship Club. This club’s meetings often involves speaking to local Ames businesses – learning about how they got started, their success stories and challenges. With entrepreneurship at the center of the heart and soul of a small business and a key factor of economic sustainability for a new business as well a key contributor to sustainability of a community’s local economy, the work of this club contributes uniquely and pivotably toward a sustainable future.

The second group we chose to spotlight embodies buying green in a different way — fashion! Read below how the Iowa State Fashion Show consistently “greens” their show.

Greening the Show

The Fashion Show, now in its 37th year, embodies buying green in a different way – through purchasing decisions in design and fashion. The Fashion Show, is a student-run event put on every year that attracts 2,500 attendees and showcases 150 student designs. Each year, the show builds upon its success and each year that includes striving to leave the smallest impact while highlighting opportunities to support sustainability during their show and beyond their show.

Outreach Producers, Josie Brownmiller & Emily Clark, describe the Fashion Show’s sustainability commitment like this. “A common theme in our planning has been to educate students on the importance of sustainability and the value of their voice in environmental issues.”


When discussing the impacts of the show, Brownmiller and Clark encourage sustainable education, design, and mindfulness. “As a leading apparel design program, our students will have a future impact on the management of textile waste and will influence their companies on this important issue.  More importantly, this event will increase awareness to all students on campus, encourage them to buy quality products, and inspire them to keep their clothing out of landfills.”  

The 2018 theme of the show was resilience, focusing on minimalism and greenhouse inspirited elements. How exciting to see what the 2019 show has in the works!

Shop Local, Shop Smart

In addition to buying green through shopping local, Ames shoppers have an added opportunity to buy green through shopping smart.

The Smart Business Challenge is a City of Ames initiative that began in 2014 as part of the City’s Sesquicentennial. Smart Business is one of the City’s highlighted Eco-Smart programs focused on efforts to increase and enhance efforts that will contribute to a sustainable future. The Challenge is based on businesses’ consideration of and actions within all facets of sustainability (environmental, economic and social)  including energy and water conservation, transportation, waste reduction, indoor and outdoor environmental quality, carbon footprint, and community engagement. There are currently 34 participating businesses.

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Beyond joining the smart business challenge, businesses can achieve different levels of certification showcasing the commitment sustainability in their operations and the products and services that they offer.

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Monthly Challenge- Buying Green

Take a day to explore some of the local businesses in Ames. Whether you’re interested in shopping, dining, or recreation, you can discover a local business perfect for you. Check out this list to find a new business to stop by. Of course one of the VERY best opportunities to take on this month’s challenge is on November 10!!


What’s Next?

December is our month dedicated to Creating Green. From a commitment to creating green buildings to opportunities to inspire the green creator in all of us, we are excited to highlight a decade of green and sustainable creations and creators. As December is also an especially significant and celebrated month in terms of gift giving and reflecting on a year accomplished and all those who were a part of that accomplishment, we are excited to “Wrap up” the year and the semester in both a festive and sustainable way with an upcycled (create your green) wrapping event.  

To keep updated on all the latest 10 Year updates and happenings, don’t forget to join our Ten Years of Living Green Facebook group.


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