Sustainapalooza 2022 Recap: Taking Small Actions Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

Hello, Cyclones!

Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement Interns, Valentine and Ashley here!

Spring Semester has been one to remember for the Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement team as we wrap up this year’s Symposium on Sustainability and Sustainapalooza and enter the early stages of Earth Day celebration planning! We are incredibly proud of how this year’s Sustainapalooza transpired and would love to share some awesome highlights and how this event has impacted our campus and community. Along with that, we want you all to know about the exciting events that are approaching in the upcoming months! 

Each year Live Green! hosts one of its biggest events; Sustainapalooza! Sustainapalooza is an annual event hosted by the Live Green! Initiative and the ISU Office of Sustainability as a companion event to Iowa State University’s Symposium on Sustainability. Sustainapalooza offers interactive GIY “Green-It-Yourself” Centers, opportunities to explore and pledge individual sustainability commitment, sustainably-minded giveaways and artwork, as well as locally-sourced food and food ingredients for refreshments. Each year’s event also features additional opportunities for education, engagement and empowerment between representatives of campus and community organizations and the students, faculty and staff of Iowa State. Sustainapalooza is an opportunity for students to learn more about sustainability (environmental, social and economic) and become inspired to practice sustainability through daily actions and community involvement.

This year’s Sustainapalooza was hosted on February 22, 2022. Campus and community members and organizations all came together to “Take Small Actions Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow”. 

This year more than 400 students, faculty and staff attended Sustainapalooza and enjoyed interacting with and learning from over 30 campus and community tabling organizations, which included four members of the City of Ames Smart Business Challenge. As we transition back to in-person events, we are so grateful for the flexibility and persistence of our participants in connecting with members of our community. It was wonderful to see the excitement and empowerment that each group helped foster! If you would like to make connections with and learn more about the businesses and organizations that tabled please visit the 2022 Symposium on Sustainability webpage to see a full listing. 

The Green-It-Yourself (GIY) Centers are always a fan-favorite and we are incredibly grateful to have been able to collaborate with four outstanding, sustainability-forward organizations! This year attendees had the opportunity to freshen up their space by creating their own customized, air purifying Mason jar terrarium, in partnership with Back Alley Plants. Wheatsfield Cooperative empowered attendees in making their own all-natural, multi-use eco-cleaner. Lastly, The Workspace and Iowa Waste Exchange partnered to offer upcycling options for every part of an unneeded t-shirt – creating tote bags, macrame plant hangers and dog toys! In addition, attendees assisted in the assembly of 150 first-aid-kits (including an upcycled t-shirt drawstring pouch) which will be donated to the Ames Public Library, Food at First and The SHOP to share with campus and community members.

One of the highest “lingering” areas of Sustainapalooza was the clothing swap shopping floor. Students, faculty and staff donated gently-used, unneeded clothing items throughout January and February (as well as bringing them to the event) to offer a great selection of “new to you” swappables. Hundreds of items, ranging from interview-worthy to kids clothes to ISU gear. Volunteers spent hours, prior to the event, getting clothing pieces organized and sized, setting up mannequins and folding clothing. The clothing swap was a huge success! We started the day with 201 items of clothing and ended with 419! Which also included swapping nearly 200 items. We also collected two bags of non-perishable food donations and almost $100 from attendees not having clothes to donate, but still wanting to shop. All food and money proceeds are donated to support the work of The SHOP, an ISU student organization whose mission is to engage with anti-hunger advocates and serve the student population by increasing hunger awareness and food security.

Each year our team works together to create the components of the central engagement piece of the event, the Green Wall. Structurally speaking, the Green Wall is a reinvented rolling room divider that we bend into shapes and adorn with recycled materials and then add prompts to – all with a focus of increasing awareness about sustainability and offer interactive engagement opportunities around the wall toward challenging and empowering attendees to think about how sustainable opportunities and decisions have and can impact them in their own lives. This year, the Green Wall featured the theme of Sustainapalooza, Taking Small Steps Today for a Sustainable Future” and was divided into four sections. As attendees walked down the “green carpet” (made from repurposed AstroTurf from Athletics), they were led to the first section of the wall describing the three facets of sustainability (environmental, social and economic. Attendees then had an opportunity to celebrate the small actions they are currently taking to be more sustainable (adding a leaf), as well as reflect on opportunities where they could have made a more sustainable choice (adding a seed). On the other side of the wall, attendees were able to pledge their future steps towards a more sustainable world (adding a footprint), “pin’ their own green hometown on a world map and strike a pose at the Cy-lebrity wall!

Additional highlights included a diversity of sustainability-inspired artworks, created by students, faculty, staff and alumni. A number of art pieces were provided through a campus and community collaboration, “The Art of Climate Planning” – produced by The EcoTheatre Lab, and funded by a City of Ames Small Art Grant. We were so excited to host pieces from four of the seven artists at this year’s event. As well as art pieces from, “The Art of Climate Planning”, four ISU students, Emily Fuller, Egan Hansen, Anika Snider and Maddie Uhl also shared their personal art pieces. To view a full listing of exhibited artwork, visit the 2022 Symposium on Sustainability website

A few other sustainability features and highlights to mention include our partnership with ISU Catering for a variety of delicious and unique refreshments options utilizing locally-sourced food, including meat and dairy products, tofu and honey lavender lemonade. In alignment with our commitment to keep Sustainapalooza zero-waste, all serviceware was entirely compostable and all leftovers were donated to Food at First. In addition, as students walked through the event and interacted with tabling organizations, they had the opportunity to accumulate points and earn multiple greener-living prizes including travel sized sewing kits, reusable screen cleaners, resealable snack bags and a refillable infuser water bottle.. 

Without the incredible support, energy and creativity of a wonderful team of volunteers, our event would not have been nearly as successful. We were fortunate to have 32 volunteers donating time and effort to help us in pre-event planning (starting in 2021) and in all that went into setting up, completing and tearing down the event on February 22.  GIANT shout out to all of our volunteers: Lujain Al Fidaghee, April Arand, Gabe Babinat, Maithilee Bahirat, Annika Baker, Ashlyn Bickett, Delaney Bishop, Alex Branham, Reese Cox, Patrick Demers, Natalie Dombrowski, Nicole Haverback, Gina Holtzbauer, Samuel Huhn, Isabelle Legan, Joseph McCartan, Stephanie McClelland, Olivia Miller, Celia Neuzil, Samantha Prigge, Jonah Sinclair, Elizabeth Smith, Ben Tulp, Blake Van Der Kamp, Pradnya Wani, Sophie Wilker and Lydia Youngquist. And to all of the individuals on this year’s planning committee: Delaney Bishop, Alex Branham, Natalie Dombrowski, Lucia Rizzo and Elizabeth Smith. Collectively these volunteers put around 200 hours into this event! These volunteers worked so hard to make it all happen and they did it so splendidly. 

For more information about Sustainapalooza, visit the Office of Sustainability: Sustainapalooza webpage. To view photos from this year’s event, as well as past events, view the Live Green! Sustainapalooza Photo Gallery on the Live Green! website.

With the Campus Sustainability Month Celebration and Sustainapalooza events under our belts, we are already looking forward to Live Green!’s next event (and final one for the 2021-2022 academic year), Earth Day on April 22! 

As a little bit of background in anticipation of this year’s celebration. In 1970, two separate individuals created the concept of Earth Day: peace activist John McConnell, who hosted an Earth Day celebration during the Spring Equinox on March 21, 1970, with help from the United Nations; and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, who hosted an Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970, which more than 20 million Americans participated in. Fifty years later, this beloved holiday is coordinated by the Earth Day Network and celebrated by more than one billion people in 192 countries worldwide. 

This year we are thrilled to honor Iowa State’s many sustainability initiatives, organizations and accomplishments at our Earth Day celebration, but as always, we would not be able to host this event without the help of our wonderful Earth Day Planning Committee. This group of volunteers helps us brainstorm activities at the event, advertise across multiple platforms and prepare necessary materials. If you are interested in being on this year’s committee or learning more about this opportunity, please reach out to either of us (Ashley at or Valentine at We cannot wait to get started with our Earth Day celebration planning and hear your ideas!

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