Sustainapalooza 2023 Recap

Hello, Cyclones!

Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement Interns, Haley and Haylie here!

This semester has been quite exciting as we wrap up this year’s Symposium on Sustainability and Sustainapalooza events and enter the early stages of Earth Day celebration planning! We are incredibly proud of how this year’s Sustainapalooza turned out, and would love to share some key takeaways and how this event has impacted our campus and community. Along with talking about Sustainapalooza, we want you all to know about the exciting events that are approaching in the upcoming months!

Each year, Live Green! hosts its biggest event, Sustainapalooza! This 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, 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 21, 2023. Campus and community members and organizations all came together to express our passion for sustainability and discuss why “The Urgency is NOW!”

This year more than 450 students, faculty and staff attended Sustainapalooza and enjoyed interacting with and learning from just under 40 campus and community tabling organizations. 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 2023 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 make three servings of yummy overnight oats to provide a nutritious, and delicious breakfast, easy for those early morning classes. This was done in partnership with ISU Dietetics Students and Peer Wellness Mentors. ISU Peer Wellness Mentors empowered attendees in making their own Three-Ingredient Toothpaste to help ensure a healthy and sustainable future. Lastly, The Workspace partnered to create card holders and coffee sleeves with basic sewing skills and upcycled sweaters! Visit the 2023 Sustainapalooza website for more information on these highlighted GIY opportunities.

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, which ranged from interview-worthy to kids clothes, to ISU gear. Before the event, volunteers spent hours getting clothing pieces organized and sized, setting up mannequins and folding clothing. The clothing swap was a huge success! We started the day with nearly 900 items of clothing and ended with ⅓ being re-homed! This also included swapping over 180 items. We also collected a bin of non-perishable food donations and neary $70 from attendees who did not have clothes to donate, but still wanted to shop. All food and money proceeds being 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. The clothing swap would not have been successful without the assistance of The Loft Resale and the University Bookstore for providing mannequins and clothing racks to display the clothing available for swaps.

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 is adorned with recycled materials and sustainability-themed prompts. The focus is on increasing awareness about sustainability and offering interactive engagement opportunities to challenge and empower attendees to think about how sustainable opportunities and decisions have an impact on them in their own lives. This year, the Green Wall featured the theme of Sustainapalooza, “The Urgency is NOW!” and was divided into two sections. The first side of the wall provided facts to call-out the need for urgency, and the second side offered facts to inspire action related to sustainable initiatives that are already being put into place amd those that are still possible. As attendees walked down the “green carpet” (made from repurposed AstroTurf from Athletics), and arrived at the Green Wall, they were greeted by a volunteer who offered them a marker to write their thoughts on the wall. Attendees then had an opportunity to read all the facts, reflect on their considerations and motivations of urgency, and, along with leaving comments on the wall,  write themselves a postcard (they will receive in a year) – reminding them of their reflections and opportunities. 
At the Cy-lebrity Selfie Wall, visitors could “strike a post” for a sustainable future!

Additional highlights included a diversity of sustainability-inspired artworks and posters that were created by students and faculty. We were excited to host many art pieces and an educational poster from students and faculty, including Bernard Canniffe, Igor Khalandovskiy, Anka Snider, J. Arbuckle, Jonah Gray, Jeanetta Plotzke, Colton Poore, Jennifer Seth, and Suraj Upadhaya. Additionally, event attendees enjoyed a collection of sustainability-inspired art created by students in the Landscape Architecture program a at Iowa State University. To learn more about all of these unique pieces, visit the  2023 Symposium on Sustainability website and the photo gallery! Special thanks to the Octagon Center for the Arts for providing specialty easels.

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 then earn greener-living prizes. This includes reusable screen cleaners, compostable sponges, resealable snack bags and a refillable infuser water bottle, among many others!

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 many volunteers donating time and effort to help us in pre-event planning (starting in 2022) and in all that went into setting up, completing and tearing down the event on February 21.  GIANT shout out to all of our volunteers: Viviana Mina, Patrick Kinn, Shelby Nechkash, Celia Neuzil, Emily Greathouse, Kai O’Connell, Elizabeth Smith, Leah Zuber, Maeley Rosengren, Cyrus Yoder, Grant Buresh, Saumya Balaji, Jess Kowalski, Gina Holtzbauer, Anna Stultz, Makenna Beamer, Dillon Kohls, Holly Hilbrant, Kiernan Adair, Zach Cashman, Mariah Hoeger, Edgar Guillen, Olivia Miller, and Kaylee Wellik. And to all of the individuals on this year’s planning committee: Jess Kowalski, Mariah Hoeger, Elizabeth Smith, Haley Wegener, and Haylie Moore. Collectively these volunteers put around 300 hours into this event! These volunteers worked extremely hard to make it all happen, all while inspiring the attendees to learn about sustainability!

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 2022-2023 academic year), Earth Day on April 18! 

Here is 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 (Haley Wegener at or Haylie Moore at We cannot wait to get started with our Earth Day celebration planning and hear your ideas!

All photos courtesy of Live Green!


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