Iowa State University is Celebrating 10 Years of Living Green!

Hello, Cyclones!! My name is Molly Breen, and I am here with Maddie Blandin. We are Strategic Initiatives Interns for the Iowa State University Live Green! Initiative. The Live Green! Initiative is celebrating its ten-year anniversary THIS year, and we are so excited to celebrate Ten Years of Living Green with all of you!


Live Green! is Iowa State University’s campus-wide sustainability initiative encouraging all students, faculty, and staff to make our campus, its operations and initiatives as “green” as possible.

The Live Green! initiative began in 2008 (ten years ago), and offered two challenges for Iowa State University with focus on engaging students, staff and faculty:

  • To be a leader in sustainability among land grant institutions.
  • To recognize that the involvement and dedication of every member of the Iowa State University community is critical to achieving this goal.

The Live Green! ten-year celebration seeks to acknowledge our effort, dedication and accomplishments while still looking to the future. From August to May during the 2018-2019 school year, the Live Green! Initiative will host various events focused on offering education, engagement and empowerment opportunities and experiences for  students, faculty and staff. You can follow along by joining our 10 Year Facebook group where you will receive exclusive updates about our events and giveaways. A preview of this year’s themes and events are included below. 

August: Moving Green

Discover the ways Cyclones have and are moving green during the month of move-in. Our moves with Hybrid CyRide buses have reduced carbon emissions by 464,102 pounds and saving 23,000 gallons of fuel per year. Students are finding lots of unique ways to move greener with over 30 group fitness classes offered each semester. To celebrate moving green, Iowa Staters are invited to participate in outdoor yoga on our beautiful Central Campus with the help of ISU Outdoor Recreation. Let’s keep moving, Cyclones!

Yoga on the Lawn

  • Wednesday, August 29th 6:00-8:00pm
  • South Campanile Lawn
  • *Free snacks and giveaways for attendees, while quantities last. Yoga mats will be provided for the first 25 participants.


September: Dining Green

Celebrate the month of Iowa State University’s local food festival and farmer’s market season by treating yourself to some knowledge of our green dining campus initiatives. Come meet the farmers who provide fresh, local ingredients to Iowa State’s dining centers and campus cafes. For an extra treat, come learn about living green on campus and get free cookies and discounted coffee if you bring your own mug.

Dining Green Foods & Features

  • Monday, September 10th 11:30-1:30pm
  • Parks Library Lawn
  • Learn about green dining intiatives and accomplishments and enjoy free ISU Dining cookies and ISU Horticulture Station apples.

October: Learning Green

Absorb knowledge by Learning Green with our three-part lecture series focused on environmental, economic and social sustainability. This is also the perfect month to browse the course catalog of sustainability-related courses for your spring schedule, and join a sustainable student organization!

Environmental, Economic & Social Sustainability Speaker Series

November: Buying Green

Keep our city “Sust-AMES-able” by shopping local during our event hosted on Main Street in Ames. Consider supporting local businesses by doing your holiday gift shopping here! There will be opportunities throughout the month to learn about the university’s green shopping habits, too!

Sust-Ames Local Shopping Day

  • Saturday, November 10th (all day)
  • Main Street and Campustown businesses
  • Shop local, sustain Ames and enter a drawing for sustainable prizes.

December: Creating Green

We are excited to celebrate all things creating green as this semester “wraps” up. Join us at the ArtMart in the Memorial Union for free, sustainable and unique gift wrapping and learn about what Iowa State University and Cyclones are creating on campus.

Sustainable Gifting Event

  • Thursday, November 29th 11-2pm
  • ArtMart, Memorial Union
  • Free gift wrapping with repurposed materials. Come see us at Winterfest on Friday, too!  

January: Giving Green

Start off the new year with a giving spirit. Drop off canned goods and gently used clothing to the Memorial Union, and pay forward for our community.

Collecting for the Community Initiative

  • Thursday, January 17th 11-2pm
  • Tabling in Memorial Union (by Bookstore)
  • Earn prizes by donating and stop by to learn about giving at Iowa State University

February: Embracing Green

Embrace both history and love this month by learning about ways we can promote diversity and understanding on our college campus. Join for us coffee and conversation, and practice embracing social awareness and diversity.

Coffee Conversations on Sustainability Events

  • Dates and times TBD
  • Parks Library and Design on Main

March: Exploring Green

Gear up for Spring Break and explore sustainable opportunities for travel, volunteering and self-care while classes are not in session. We’ll be here to support you as you “spring” into self-sustainability.

All-Iowa Student Sustainability Conference

  • Friday, March 8th 9am-4:30pm
  • Memorial Union
  • SAVE THE DATE!!  More information and registration information to come!

April: Celebrating Green

Celebrate TEN years in April for our final month and anniversary celebration! Come for live music, free food and yard games, but stay for the history, conversations and FUN.

Ten Years of Living Green Finale Celebration Event

  • Central Campus
  • SAVE THE DATE! Food, multi-faceted celebrating and sustainability-minded giveaways. Stay tuned to the Ten Year Celebration Facebook page for more information.

 As you can see have a year planned that is bursting with celebration for the MANY ways we have been living cardinal, gold and green over the past ten years!!  We are SO excited to bring you each and every one of these events and features and look forward to celebrating 10 Years of the Live Green! Initiative on Iowa State’s Campus with you!

Stay connected to make sure you do not miss any part of our celebration year!!  To get a head start on this year’s celebration, join our Facebook group and follow us on social media (WordPress, Instagram, and Facebook).

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Greening Your Cup of Joe

Molly- “Paige, guess what today is?”

Paige- “What?”

Molly- “International Coffee Day!”

Paige- “That’s one of my new favorite holidays! Let’s go celebrate!”

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Ames is a coffeeshop goldmine. It’s full of unique coffee shops that add a diverse flavor to your study session or hangout. In honor of  International Coffee Day on September 29th, we took a Coffee Tour in Ames. We toured {almost} every coffee shop from Main Street to Campustown and everywhere in between.

How Can you Green Your Joe?

A great way to celebrate International Coffee Day is to support farmers and communities around the world by purchasing sustainable and fair trade coffee. There are dozens of places to purchase ready-to-drink sustainable coffee or beans to make on your own coffee at home. This is a great way to “green your cup of joe” and celebrate a delicious holiday. Additionally, supporting local coffee shops is another way to green your cup of joe.

What is Sustainable Coffee?

Sustainable coffee has three main goals: improve livelihoods of workers, conserve nature and sustain supply.

Improving livelihoods focuses on assuring that workers are being treated and compensated fairly. It’s ensuring that child workers aren’t being exploited, wages are fair, hours are reasonable and conditions are safe.

Conserving Nature is aimed at adopting climate smart agricultural practices. This includes improved market access, infrastructure and the elimination
of harmful pesticides or fertilizers. **help me here… how is market access and climate smart connected?

Sustaining Supply is all about conserving what resources we still have. The production of sustainable coffee works to reduce water consumption, forest depletion, and soil consumption while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

What is Fair Trade?

Being fair trade certified requires an extensive set of guidelines are followed and specific
parameters are satisfied. Fair Trade standards aim to bring a mission of empowerment, economic development, social development and environmental stewardship to farmers, fishers and workers around the world. This means your cup of Fair Trade coffee is truly making a positive impact on farmers around the world.

There are many places in Ames you can purchase sustainable and Fair Trade coffee which include Burgie’s, Hy-Vee, Wheatsfield and Worldly Goods, just to name a few. Ask your favorite local cafe or retailer about the fair trade and sustainable coffees they carry.

Why is it important to shop at local coffee shops?

By purchasing beverages from local shops, you support our local economy. When you shop local, the money you spend stays in the Ames community! That means that we become a more self-sufficient community with more resources added into and circulating throughout our economy.  On top of that, you’re supporting someone’s livelihood! Small business owners are our neighbors. They have families, ambitions and goals. Supporting their businesses means you are supporting all of that and more.

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How to Green your Joe on Campus?

If you’re on campus and need a boost, stop by one of the ten Iowa State Cafes where you can support sustainable coffee by The Roasterie. Iowa State Dining supports fair trade and many of the cafes offer various sustainable coffee and espresso options. Check out Iowa State Daily’s article, to learn more about fair trade offerings on campus. Remember to bring your reusable cup to instantly save 35 cents on any beverage!

Iowa State students are noticing how important sustainable coffee is too. Emily Seibel and many others are helping to combat the issue of unfair coffee practices by joining a group called El Zapote Coffee, which is connected through various churches in Ames. Seibel says, “Supporting these farmers is so important and if I can do this by purchasing delicious coffee, then why wouldn’t I?” You can learn more about El Zapote and their connection with Honduran farmers on their Facebook Page.


There are ten campus cafes where you can support fair trade coffee and espresso AND receive 35 cents off for bringing your reusable mug. Check out all the campus cafes here. (Bookends Cafe in Parks Library pictured)

We are so lucky to have so many delicious and sustainable coffee shops in the town of Ames and even right on our campus. Whether you are supporting the community by checking out a local cafe or stopping at Bookends Cafe before class to try ISU’s fair trade coffee, find a way to celebrate International Coffee Day. International Coffee Day is celebrated around the world in over twenty countries, but we say, why just limit the celebrating to one day? Keep learning about coffee and how you can support an important (and delicious) cause everyday.


Have a “brew-tiful” day celebrating International Coffee Day,  and please enjoy our video about sustainable and local coffee! ☕️

Celebrate Friends-Giving

Hello! My name is Molly Breen, and I am a Live Green! Intern in the Office of Sustainability. My teammate, Paige, and I recently blogged about our first sustainability event of the 2016-2017 academic year, National Campus Sustainability Day! Today I am back to talk about a fun and unique twist to celebrating Thanksgiving – Friends-Giving.

November is a month of family, friends, food and, most importantly, being thankful. It is extremely easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holiday season and all the family celebrations to keep track of and overlook the fun and joy of gathering together and being thankful for all of the opportunities and blessings we enjoy.

One idea to assist in better embracing kicking back, relaxing and enjoying is by celebrating Friends-Giving. Friends-Giving is a popular trend focused around celebrating the season with friends, in addition to families.  Not only does this offer another opportunity to celebrate, it means, two holiday meals and that much more time to be thankful. Unlike the traditional Thanksgiving gathering, Friends-Giving encourages the opportunity to add some originality into your celebration in ways such as by having a themed potluck, getting crafty with reusable items, or just taking time to share your gratitude.

So… let’s look a bit more at the possibilities for each of these.  


Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries…oh my. November is a time to indulge and finally take a break from work and studies. While the traditional dishes are always delicious, a fun twist is to host a potluck to share a variety of sweet and savory dishes to enjoy with friends. To add some spice into your meal… you can actually add a theme all the food has to fall within or ban any traditional Thanksgiving foods to save them for Thanksgiving dinner.  

It’s easy to put together a gathering around food.  All you need to do is pick a date with some friends and have each pick a food item to bring. Remember in the spirit of being sustainable try and buy local ingredients whenever possible.  This could also be a theme – bringing only dishes that can be made with all local ingredients.  A favorite recipe of mine is an apple pie made with apples from a local orchard and homemade pie crust. Another twist on your gathering can be for everyone to bring ingredients and cook together, instead of just bringing finished dishes.  This adds a fun group activity as well as delicious food to your Friends-Giving.  

An obvious challenge with any gathering around food is how to not waste it.  If your friends are not as hungry as anticipated do not throw the extra food away, make it useful! Most thanksgiving foods can be turned into a variety of other meals like a turkey sandwich or shepherd’s pie, through “Greening your Leftovers” (shown on page 12 of the November Live Green! newsletter).  If your guests are traveling and are not able to easily take leftovers home, donating your extra food is great way to show your thankfulness as well.  Check in with local shelters of community support groups to see what options may be available in your area.  


What to do when the eating is done?  There are tons of green-it-yourself (GIYS) crafts that can offer a fun distraction to any gathering!! With the holiday season upon us, there are so many useful and timely considerations for things to craft, such as decorations. One of my personal favorites is wreaths. Wreaths can be made from SO many different things that you likely have laying around, can gather outside or can find at a thrift shop.  These different wreaths (pictured below), for example, made with recyclable materials are eco-friendly and free and  would spice up any door. For more GIY decorations and crafts for the holiday season, check out Crafting a Green World for some fun ideas.

In the spirit of friends-giving, you could also show someone how thankful you are by giving them your GIY you created. Nothing can beat the love and uniqueness of a handmade gift.


Lastly, the underlying reason for Thanksgiving, giving thanks.  It’s important at any variety of Friends-Giving you embark upon to incorporate sharing thankfulness with each other. It is easy to get caught up in school and work, take for granted all that you have and forget about all the amazing people in your life and things happening around you. One thing my friends and I enjoy at our Friends-Giving is each take a turn and verbally say what we are thankful this holiday season. It is fun to hear everyone else’s perspective and it can lead to other discussions about the people and things that bring you thanks. Besides verbally expressing thanks, you can offer thanks through other unique ways, such as creating a “pumpkin of thanks” that can be a centerpiece for your gathering.  For other fun ideas, check out this list.


These three ideas together create the best friends-giving possible with food, crafts, and gratitude, but no matter what unique pieces you might incorporate into your celebrations, remember to be thankful.

RAMPing Up Sustainability: “Greening” the July Move Out Season

Hello, everyone! My name is Laurelin, and I’m a Special Initiatives intern in the Office of Sustainability! I’m back today with a wrap-up post on the Rummage RAMPage, a city-wide rummage sale that helped divert household items from the landfill while raising money for local nonprofits! Check out the rest of the post to learn more about the event!

The end of July can be a stressful time for renters – especially in a college town. Students who have stuck around for the summer have a few weeks to move to different living spaces for the upcoming school year. Ames streets are filled with moving trucks stacked high with boxes, and unwanted furniture is left behind on the curb.

During these weeks, the Ames Resource Recovery Plant (RRP) often sees an influx of couches, wooden furniture, clothing, and more as renters attempt to meet their move out requirements. The Ames RRP is a waste-to-energy facility that receives garbage from Ames and surrounding communities, and the burnable portion of the refuse is used as renewable and local fuel to generate electricity. Unfortunately many move out items, such as large furniture, are classified as non-burnable material that is not beneficial to the Resource Recovery System and is sent to the landfill.

I experienced the hustle and bustle of July move-out season for myself this past year. Because I was working in Ames I lived in university housing over the summer, and at the end of July I was preparing to move out of my old apartment into a new space for the fall semester.

Looking around my apartment, I faced a dilemma: What should I do with my old household items that I wanted to throw away but were too large for my trashcan? I wanted to move out sustainably, but didn’t know how to put my old electronics and furniture to good use in the community.


The showroom of the Rummage RAMPage was located in the Ames Intermodal Facility

Luckily, the City of Ames had a solution – the 2016 Rummage RAMPage was held in the Ames Intermodal Facility parking ramp from July 29th to August 2nd, and the five-day event gave everyone in the Ames community a chance to reduce the amount of material sent to the landfill by partnering reusable household goods with new owners!

The Intermodal Facility was transformed into a showroom with separate sections for couches and chairs, dining sets, exercise equipment, cabinets and storage, and small household items. Once items were purchased, they were set aside in a separate area.

Throughout the event, volunteers kept the event running smoothly by manning a cash register, pricing items, and loading items in and out of the showroom.

As a community member, the donation process was simple. Donors could either drop off their items in person at the Intermodal Facility or pay a small fee to have volunteers pick up their items from their curb. And visitors purchasing items were able to conveniently park next to the showroom and load their new items into their vehicle.

The items that were accepted at the Rummage RAMPage included furniture, small electronics, flat screen televisions, housewares, kitchenware, and non-perishable food. All items were “priced to move,” at $1, $5, $10, and $20, and the proceeds were divided up among the non-profit volunteer groups that donated their time to the event.

By the end of the week, the Rummage RAMPage had managed to:

  • Divert 22 tons of furniture and housewares out of the landfill
  • Raise almost $6,000 for local non-profit agencies

I spent some time working at the Rummage RAMPage on the very first day it was held, and I was absolutely taken aback by the community’s outpouring of support for the event. As I moved couches, tables, exercise equipment, entertainment systems, and even the occasional child’s viola into the showroom, I couldn’t believe how many people were willing to donate their items to a good cause!

The level of excitement continued to grow throughout the week as the sales began. Items brought in were quickly turned over to new owners – and some items didn’t even make it to the showroom floor before they found a new home!

It was a lot of fun to walk through the showroom each day and check out the new arrivals. There were so many hidden treasures that caught my eye, including a bright pink exercise bike and a homemade ice cream maker. And towards the end of the event I purchased a used door mat for my apartment that’s sensible and matches my decor!

The Green Umbrella President, Megan, as well as Live Green! interns Kathryn and Sindhuja also volunteered during the event! Check out their stories and most memorable moments below:

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Megan Kathryn Sindhuja
The Rummage RAMPage was a truly unique experience. Part of what made the event so incredibly unique is that each day I got to watch items that would have sat in someone’s garage or gone to the landfill become re-purposed into something much more useful. A group of us got creative and would talk to visitors about how they could fix up different items in order to make them more functional or beautiful. People thought we were a little ridiculous, but it was fun and several folks liked our creativity enough to try it for themselves! It was amazing to see how many community members donated their items instead of selling them for few extra dollars or simply throwing them away. It was a wonderful to watch the selflessness of the donors and see the joy on visitors’ faces as they were able to afford and purchase lightly used furniture and other household items. I worked one of the last days of the Rummage RAMPage, and I was completely surprised that items were being donated and sold almost until the last minute of the event. Each person who attended the event expressed how much they enjoyed it and encouraged us to host the event again! One of the most powerful parts of volunteering at Rummage RAMPage was seeing all the happy faces of the visitors after finding and purchasing a hidden treasure. The event felt a little chaotic at times, especially during the peak hours of the RAMPage over the weekend. But the wonderful efforts of volunteers helped to keep the event running smoothly. Members from various service groups did everything from pricing donations to loading up buyers’ cars. The event was truly a great showcase of the community coming together!

Event planners are already working on Rummage RAMPage 2017 beginning at the end of July and extending into early August, so if you missed the event this year there will be many opportunities in the future to participate!

Hold onto your old couches, bed frames, tables, electronics, lamps, microwaves and more and donate them to next year’s Rummage RAMPage event! And who knows? You might even find new-to-you treasures to take back home!

Written by Laurelin Haas, Live Green! Special Initiatives Intern

Check out more pictures of the event at our Live Green! Facebook album.

Learn more about the event at!


Gardening 101: A Newbie’s Guide to the Food At First Garden

Hello, everyone! My name is Laurelin, and I’m a Live Green! intern currently working for the office over the summer! You might remember me from previous blog posts, and I’m happy to say that I’ll be here throughout the fall semester as well! Today I’m back with a new post on gardening – let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Every Wednesday after a long day spent in front of a computer screen, I don my gardening gloves and knee pads and reconnect with nature. I’ve spent hours fighting with weeds, planting seeds, and chasing rabbits through a maze of raspberries – and I can honestly say that my experience as a volunteer at the Food At First Garden has been one of the highlights of my summer!

At the beginning of the season I started interning full time, and I found that I had significantly more time on my hands without the pressures of schoolwork. I knew that I wanted to volunteer in some way and I’ve also always wanted to try my hand at gardening, so I signed up to help at the Food At First Garden.


On that very first Wednesday, I was the first one to arrive. I paced around nervously to kill time, and I was filled with doubts about the experience. I’d never really gardened before, and I could barely tell crops from weeds. I imagined pulling up all of the wrong plants and killing everything in the garden – I was worried that I’d be the worst gardener in the history of mankind.

Soon enough, some of the wonderful volunteers from the Sustainable Agriculture Student Association (SASA) arrived, and they put me straight to work! I quickly learned that my lack of gardening experience didn’t really matter – every task was explained to me very clearly, and I was able to ask all sorts of questions if I still didn’t understand something.

Really, the only qualification necessary was willingness to work hard at work worth doing.

Everyone at the garden was friendly and welcoming, and I learned a lot about plants and gardening in the two hours that I spent there on my first day. I left feeling excited to return, and I’ve been going back each week ever since!

Gardening to me is a way enjoy the outdoors, learn new skills, and take a break from the rest of the world. Some days (depending on the task), it’s also a great way to get in a workout! And because the Food At First Garden donates most of its produce to the local community, it’s a wonderful way for me to give back in my spare time.

Food At First is an organization that offers a free meal program and a food pantry program. Fresh produce from the garden is incorporated into the Food At First meals and is also available for distribution at Trinity Church on Saturday mornings!


Live Green! intern, Adam, made Mexican Lasagna at Trinity Church for Food at First using some ingredients from the garden! 

So for all you hesitant gardeners out there, I encourage you to give gardening a try! Here are some things I wish I’d known on my first day at the garden:

  • No gardening experience is necessary
  • Come dressed to sweat in clothes you don’t mind getting a little dirty
  • Put on sunscreen and bug spray before arriving
  • Bring a water bottle
  • Gloves and knee pads will be provided
  • Be prepared to eat as many overripe raspberries as you want

The Food At First Garden is located behind the Trinity Christian Reformed Church at 3626 Ontario St. Garden work days are Wednesdays from 5-7pm and Saturdays from 9-11am! Sign up online or just show up ready to work! And for more information, email This year the garden will be open until about mid-October and will pick back up in the spring!

Gardening has been one of the best and most memorable experiences of my summer, and if you have some extra time on your hands it could also be the highlight of yours, too!

Written By: Laurelin Haas, Live Green! intern
Featured Image:

Living Around Autism

Please welcome back Kathryn! Kathryn is a Live Green! intern, and she’s written multiple posts on her experiences at Iowa State. Today she’s here to share more information about autism awareness, which is related to social sustainability.

In our house, every month is Autism Awareness Month, not just April. I have been involved in many Autism awareness organizations both on Iowa States campus as well as in various communities. My family has been forever impacted by Autism and I hope others can grow to appreciate and understand autistic children better.

Living with someone who has Autism has been one of the hardest, most challenging but most rewarding experiences of my life. Autism has shaped my life in ways I didn’t even know were possible. It has taught me patience, kindness, unbelievable compassion, and most importantly, acceptance of others.

My younger brother, and best friend, was a fantastic little kid, always smiling and laughing. He was never a fussy child and always loved snuggling with my mother and me. It was at age four that my parents started noticing changes and quirks about my brother. He didn’t speak much, had trouble walking, covered his ears at loud noises, but could read chapter books, loved movies and music, and was fascinated with every kitchen utensil in the house. This was the introduction of the word “autism” to our family’s vocabulary.

Growing up together, my brother and I never played catch, or tag, or basketball. But we had marvelous imaginary games with knights, pirates, and conquistadors. We discussed the vastness of the universe and the age of the dinosaurs. We shared almost every childhood memory together and grew to be best friends.

“My brother is special,” I used to say to the other children on the playground. “He has something no one else in the world has.” In my house we never once treated Autism like a disability or crutch, but rather celebrated the different strengths it gave each member of my family.

Trying to understand what it is like for someone to have Autism is almost impossible to describe, and it is different for almost every child. Each child with Autism has different tendancies and idiosyncrasies.

I remember the first time my parents took my brother and me to Disneyland. Our excitement practically burst the doors off the backseat. We, like most children, had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we hardly slept the night before imagining meeting all of our Disney idols face to face.


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When we finally arrived at Disneyland, I immediately jumped out of the car and ran towards the front door – not realizing my brother was still clinging to my mother’s side. He hesitantly made his way towards the gate, hands covering his ears. Once inside, my brother did not stop crying the entire 3-hour visit. He had no interest in the roller coasters, the masked characters, or the thousands of other people and their kids. Only now do I realize why.

Autistic children are very sensitive to their surroundings. Large groups of people overwhelm them, causing panic and anxiety attacks. In my brother’s case, his senses are heightened, making every sound twice as loud and twice as scary. He is quite content to sit outside on a nice day and read a book, and there is nothing wrong with that.

My brother has taught me many lessons about life. He has taught me to cherish the small things and not worry about what other people think. He has taught me what unconditional love looks like, and that it is okay to be different than everyone else. He has taught me to celebrate our differences and embrace those who are different than us.


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Autism is in no way a disability, disease, or curse. It is a unique lens for which many people view life. It is a different way to think about the world and reminds us everyday to be grateful for what we have. I love someone who has autism, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Written by: Kathryn Leidhal
Edited by: Laurelin Haas
Featured Image:

I Pledge to be Sustainable

Madi: Hello everyone!  Laurelin and I are back with one final blog post for you all!

Laurelin: The year has sadly come to an end and while I won’t miss the stress of finals and classes, I’m definitely going to miss working as a Live Green! intern.

Madi: To wrap things up and bring the blog full circle, Laurelin and I wanted our final post to be a reflection on what we learned about sustainability.

Laurelin: We also wanted to highlight the many ways ISU students have pledged to live sustainably throughout the school year.

Madi: So we hope you enjoy this quick post, and thank you so much for your interest in ISU Live Green! and sustainability!

Sustainability Pledges

At each of our events this year, we asked all of our attendees to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability through some sort of prompt and pledge wall. This activity empowers students, staff, and faculty members to think critically about sustainability and how they can make an impact on the environment through changes (large or small) in their lifestyle!

At National Campus Sustainability Day in the fall and Earth Day in the spring, attendees wrote their pledges on our trifold chalkboard.

At Sustainapalooza, attendees wrote their pledge on a large pledge wall!  This past year, we challenged attendees to think critically about the different facets of sustainability. We created large graphics and prompts for five topics related to sustainable lifestyles: water conservation, energy conservation, economic sustainability, social sustainability, and waste reduction.


The pledges from Sustainapalooza were very unique and diverse. To showcase the wide range of pledges, we’ve created infographics containing all of the different ways Sustainapalooza participants will live more sustainably.

How will you conserve water?

Water Conservation Wordle

How will you conserve energy?


How will you practice economic sustainability?

Economic Sustainablity Wordle

How will you give back to your community?

Community:Hand Wordle

How will you reduce your waste?


Madi: Reflecting back on this past year, it astounds me how much I’ve grown through this internship. My knowledge, appreciation, and passion for sustainability have all increased.

Working for the Office of Sustainability taught me a lot about myself and that I can always strive to be more sustainable.  I am also now convinced that I need to invest in a Bokashi composter.

Working as a Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement intern not only taught me how to be more sustainable, it also taught me how to inspire my friends, family and colleagues to live more sustainably and how important it is to promote more sustainable lifestyles everyday.

“We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”

– Howard Zinn

Thank you for reading our posts. I’ve loved and enjoyed writing them for you all to read!

Laurelin: From tiny houses to Valentine’s Day chocolates, I’ve had a really fun time writing and researching the Live Green! posts throughout the year! Although I have an environmental studies background, I was surprised to find that I learned new things every day as a Live Green! intern.

My hands-on experiences with the Zero Waste Week Challenge and planning all of the different sustainability events also helped connect what I’m learning in the classroom to my everyday life.

Sustainability is a huge, broad topic that can seem a little intimidating at first – with environmental, economic, and social problems around the globe, how can one person make a difference?

As a Campus and Community Engagement intern, I think my biggest takeaway is this: No one has to solve all the world’s problems alone – if everyone starts with one thing, we can collectively work towards a more sustainable future.

FINAL Start with 1

Like Madi mentioned earlier, thank you for reading all of our posts and following the blog throughout the year! It’s been a pleasure to write for Live Green! and I look forward to keeping up with the blog in the future!

Written by: Laurelin Haas and Madi VanGundy, Campus and Community Engagement Interns

Photos by: Grace Lee

Celebrating Earth Month at Iowa State

Our wonderful Honors student, Lauren Young, is back writing a blog on her Earth Month experience! In celebration of the many sustainable activities that go on in the Ames community throughout the month of April, Live Green! creates a comprehensive calendar that highlights events at ISU and in Ames, and The Green Umbrella holds a week of fun activities throughout Earth Week! Now without further ado, here’s Lauren!

Hello, it’s me again! My name is Lauren Young, and I’m currently an undergraduate doing research with the Office of Sustainability. As you might know, the April 22nd was Earth Day but you might be surprised to learn that the entire month of April was Earth Month!

Over the past month, I tried to attend a multitude of events around the Ames area relating to sustainability in celebration of Earth Month. Since sustainability is made up of three main facets – environmental, economic, and social sustainability – the events varied from Greek community philanthropies to a speech by Bill Nye (I know, exciting right?!).

1. Social Sustainability Within the Greek Community

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As a member of the the Greek community I had the opportunity to attend numerous philanthropic events put on by Greek chapters this month.

The first was Alpha Chi Omega’s Quesadillas, which benefitted the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support (ACCESS) and promoted sexual assault awareness. The quesadillas were terrific, there were chips and guacamole, and the meal was topped off with Insomnia Cookies! What more can a girl ask for?

My own chapter also put on a philanthropy event earlier this month, Pi Phi Taco Time. We served extra-large walking tacos, and the money raised benefits Read>Lead>Achieve, an organization that promotes literacy. We also held a book drive in which people could donate books for children in need and be entered in the a raffle for prizes.

The last Greek philanthropy I attended was Mac Attack, put on by Delta Delta Delta sorority and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. The event included delicious macaroni and cheese bowls and a complete topping bar (swoon). The proceeds went to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Each of these events cost $5 a ticket, and they were a great way to purchase delicious food while also giving back to some amazing causes (benefitting social sustainability) and supporting my fellow members of the Greek community here at Iowa State.

2. ISU’s Upcycled Fashion Wins Best in Show

I also had the opportunity to attend this year’s Iowa State Fashion Show. As a fashion lover, this was extremely exciting for me and I had a wonderful time. From the people backstage, to the designers and even the models, everything was organized by ISU students. The stage decorations were gorgeous, and I loved all of the runway garments.

At the end of the program, awards were given to the designers, including an award for Best in Show. The Best in Show award was given to a young woman who created looks inspired by and created with recycled office supplies. It was awesome to see such beautiful garments made from upcycled materials like post-it notes. And best of all, the designs were eco-friendly!

3. A Call to Action from Bill Nye

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One of my favorite events from Earth Month was attending a lecture by Bill Nye. It was a bit of a drive since he was speaking at Drake University in Des Moines, but the lecture was definitely worth it, and I reduced my carbon footprint by carpooling with friends! (Yay, sustainability!)

The lecture took place in Drake’s basketball stadium, and the venue was absolutely packed. I ended up standing on a railing because all the seats were taken. Bill Nye’s lecture covered a variety of topics. He began with his family history and his father’s fascination with sundials, then he spoke about his work on the Mars rovers, and finally he addressed climate change.

Nye recently released a book about climate change, and during his lecture he really stressed that we, as young college students, have the responsibility to make a difference. Halfway through the program, Neil Degrasse Tyson called Nye and we got the hear their conversation over the microphone. My inner nerd has never fangirled so hard.

Nye then took questions from the audience, which included an intense discussion about terraforming other planets and also Bill wonderfully explaining to an adorable young child why he believes in infinity. It was an amazing experience and eye-opening overall and I hope he comes to speak at Iowa State in the future.

4. Showcasing Diversity at the ISU Cyclone Market

On a beautiful Saturday morning, I headed over to the Cyclone Market. This was an outdoor event held in the Jack Trice Stadium parking lot. Organizations set up tables to promote their cause, and some sold food and gifts to fundraise.

I personally though that Team PrISUm’s solar powered car was really cool. There were also cute little succulent plants for sale that caught my eye. I bought a heavenly mango smoothie for $1 from one of the multicultural organizations, and it was a perfect icy treat as the day started to heat up. The spring football game followed Cyclone Market, and I managed to get seats in the very front row – where I also got a wicked sunburn.

5. Celebrating Earth Day on the ISU Campus

On April 22nd, the Green Umbrella student organization and the Office of Sustainability hosted Earth Day at ISU! Held on a Friday this year, the event was located on the south library lawn.

The venue was full of campus and community organizations that support sustainability and eco-friendly living. There was a small pledge wall where students were prompted to share how they are friendly to the Earth. There was also a stationary bike that produced enough energy to power a computer, high tech solar panels, and a wind turbine! Unfortunately I could not stay at the event for very long (since I had to hurry off to class) but it was still fun to walk around even for a little while.

I celebrated Earth Day in my own way later that afternoon by enjoying the outdoors and having some zen time laying in my hammock.

6. Exercising for a Cause with Happy Strong Healthy Magazine

The last event I was able to attend during Earth Month was a 5K put on by Happy Strong Healthy magazine, which is a new campus organization. The magazine features lots of articles on mental, physical, and emotional health in a college setting.

When I first signed up for the 5K I fully intend to run the race, but when I got there I found some friends and we decided to just walk together. It was a beautiful spring day and the 5K took us on a great route on and off campus. I got to spend some time talking with friends while meeting my daily step goal on my FitBit. It was a great way to end the month!

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Overall, going to all of these events was immensely rewarding. It forced me to really get out of my comfort zone and appreciate what goes on in and around our community every April. Instead of just sitting inside studying or watching Netflix, I got to explore campus, learn about the environment, meet new people, experience new adventures, and give back to the community – all while being sustainable!

It was a very successful Earth Month, and my experiences are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s an incredible diversity of sustainable events and opportunities here at Iowa State University if you just start looking!

I’m so happy to have been given the chance to work on this project. I have learned so much about sustainability and have gotten some wonderful and unique research experience. It has been rewarding to do something that positively impacts ISU and I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity. I hope getting to see some of my experiences through this blog have inspired others. So long!

Author: Lauren Young
Editor: Laurelin Haas
Featured Image: Grace Lee

How to Move-Out Sustainably

After writing a wonderful blog post on Sustainapalooza, Honors student Lauren Young is back with a new article on moving out sustainably!  If you’re leaving Ames for the summer then be sure to check out these helpful tips on cleaning out your residence hall room or apartment!

Hello, I’m back again! My name is Lauren Young, and I am a freshman at Iowa State University. I have been given the amazing opportunity to conduct research this semester through the Honors Mentor Program, and I have been working with the Office of Sustainability and the Live Green! Initiative.

The research I have been doing is a little different than your typical research in a lab. My tasks include things like doing research for the monthly newsletter, going to events, and writing blog posts! Working with the Live Green team and learning a variety of new things about sustainability has been an awesome experience, and I’m also learning how to effectively communicate my findings to students.

For this particular blog post, I was challenged to make my move-out at the end of the year more sustainable!

Moving your belongings from your apartment or dorm all the way back home can be incredibly daunting.  As a freshman, I’ve never had to deal with moving out – until now! So, I decided to begin my move-out process by taking an inventory of all of my items.


I spent time walking around my dorm and looking at all the stuff I had crammed everywhere. Even though my room is small, I still had a ton of stuff! My list consisted of things like a shower curtain, textbooks, unused school supplies, washrags, shower shelf, rugs, extra cleaning supplies, blankets, and unwanted clothes. It was a pretty lengthy list!

Next, I made a plan for each item: take it home, give it away, or throw it out. For example, I wanted to keep all my bedding, but I could get rid of all of my extra Clorox wipes. After looking at all of my plans, I realized there was definitely room for improvement when it comes to being more green and sustainable.

Did I really need to throw out all of my cleaning supplies?

Were there ways that I could repurpose my old rugs?

Is there somewhere I can donate clothes I don’t need? 

After doing some research, I found a lot of sustainable alternatives to throwing out unwanted things. There are countless places that take donations around Ames, and I was also able to find some crafty ways to repurpose old items (thanks Pinterest!) like the shower caddy shelf in my shower. Did you know you that shower caddies are a great place for potted plants?


Next I needed to decide what I could get rid of now and what I would need to keep until my final move-out. For example, I had some extra clothes and rags I had no use for, but I’d need things like textbooks and my shower curtain until the end of the year. If there were things I could get rid of now, I decided I might as well get a head start and donate them right away. Starting early means less stress for me when it came to finals week and move-out.

My grandparents live in Ames, so I asked them to come out with me for a day of donations. I loaded up two bags!  The first one contained Clorox and Windex wipes, rags, and a blanket. The local Ames Animal Shelter uses these and loves donations, so the first bag went there. They were very excited and thankful for the donation, and I even got to hold a puppy, so overall it was a great experience!

My second bag contained gently-used clothes, a laundry bag, and a fan. My grandma added some of her things to my pile and all of those items went to The Salvation Army. Unlike other donation sites, both of the organizations I donated to keep their items in the local Ames community. So donating my residence hall items was a great way to give back to the town I love!


About a week later I was done using one of my books for English, so I did not need it anymore. My sorority, Pi Beta Phi, has a philanthropy that supports literacy, and for the philanthropy we take book donations. So I donated my book to our philanthropy!

I was lightening my move out load while contributing to a cause I love. The best part is, as a college student with no car, all of the places I donated items to could be reached by the CyRide bus system!


As for the rest of my items, I’ve already planned out where each item should go. For example, I am not usually one to keep old textbooks, so when finals end I will be ready to get rid of them, either by selling them back to the University Bookstore or donating them to the Ames Public Library. There are also Facebook pages and other secure websites that allow for textbook selling and swapping, and one of the easiest ways to get rid of books is to ask  friends if they’d like to purchase them for next semester.

The ISU Department of Residence also offers a program called SAVE that begins April 21 and continues until May 11. The SAVE program provides drop-off locations in many of the residential areas so students can get rid of unwanted items all at once .


Since there are some items that I will not use until next semester, my grandparents offered to store them here in Ames.  (Thanks, grandparents!)  It doesn’t make sense to move those items home just have to have them go unused all summer. If you have a lot of residence hall items you’d rather keep in Ames, you can look into renting a storage unit or you can ask friends staying in Ames to store your items for the summer.

Now finals week and move out will be a breeze for me! I have less to move out, and I have plans for each and every piece that’s still left. Taking stock of all the items in my residence hall room really helped me to make a move out plan rather than having to make last minute decisions.

It also felt good to give back to the community, and I now I won’t have a guilty conscience from throwing an excessive amount of stuff in the trash! I encourage you all to make a move-out plan, but even if you don’t it is still important to be conscientious about the items that you throw away during move out.  Overall taking stock of your residence hall items will definitely make your life easier and help the community and the environment at the same time! It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN.

Written by: Lauren Young
Edited by: Laurelin Haas and Madi VanGundy
Featured image from:

Bokashi Composting Basics: The Food Waste Solution for the Sustainable College Student

Ask yourself this question: How many times do you take your trash out in a single month? Once? Twice? Three times? Even four?

Why does it matter how much waste we throw away? Waste in landfills releases methane and CO2, which has an impact on global climate change1. We also end up throwing away beneficial materials, like food waste, that can be used productively for other purposes.

In early January, I participated in a Zero Waste Week challenge as an intern in the Office of Sustainability to become more aware of what I was throwing away. During the challenge, I tried to find new ways to reduce my own carbon footprint, and I discovered that about 90% of my waste was related to food – food packaging, food scraps (like broccoli stems), and food that had gone bad in the refrigerator. I started searching for ways to reduce my food waste, and that’s when I stumbled upon Bokashi composting.

The bokashi system is the ideal food waste solution for the sustainable college student because it’s an odorless form of composting that can take place indoors. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the concept of bokashi composting, explain how you can set up your own system at home, and compare the benefits and drawbacks of the bokashi system in a college setting.


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What is Bokashi composting?

In general, composting accelerates the natural decomposition process of organic materials2. Composting is great for the environment because it reduces the amount of waste you send to the landfill and it turns that waste into a useful product.

Now bokashi compost works a little differently than your typical compost pile. “Bokashi” is a Japanese term that means “fermented organic matter,” and the bokashi itself is a dry mixture of bran, molasses, water and “effective microorganisms”3. These microorganisms ferment food scraps without creating a foul-smelling odor.

Basically, the bokashi breaks food down from the inside out and turns waste into really great soil using a much faster process than traditional composting.


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How to start a Bokashi system

Starting a bokashi system in your own residence hall or apartment is simple!

First, you’ll need to purchase or make your own bokashi composting kit. There are two main components to bokashi composting: an airtight container and the bokashi itself. My bokashi kit was purchased online. A ready-made bokashi kit can cost anywhere from $30 to $100 depending on how many buckets are included, and bokashi microbes cost about $15 per 2 lb bag. Because the kit can be a little expensive, I actually asked for bokashi as a Christmas present to help offset some of the initial set-up costs.

You can also create a DIY bokashi kit using a bucket with a lid as an airtight container, and there are recipes online that can teach you how to make your own bokashi. Buckets cost about $15 and DIY bokashi ingredients cost about $22 for a 50 lb bag (get the recipe here).

Once you’ve got your bokashi composting kit in place, the actual composting process is relatively simple and can be broken down into two stages4.


A typical bokashi system includes at least a bucket and bokashi bran. Image from

Stage One: Ferment your food scraps.

  1. Start your bokashi compost by placing a small amount of bokashi into the bottom of your bucket.
  2. Add your first layer of food scraps into the bucket and sprinkle a small amount of bokashi on top of the layer.
  3. Press the food scraps down to eliminate air pockets and put the lid back on the bucket.
  4. Repeat this process until your large, airtight bucket is filled to the brim with layers of food scraps and bokashi.
  5. Let the full bucket sit sealed and undisturbed for two weeks.

Stage Two: Neutralize your bokashi compost.

The second stage of bokashi composting turns bokashi into fertile soil. After the food waste has fermented in the bucket it’s very acidic, and it will need to neutralize before it’s safe for plant roots. Ideally, bokashi compost should be buried in a 20 centimeter-deep hole. Then after two to four weeks, you can plant into the bokashi-enriched soil.

Bokashi composting in a college setting: Pros and cons



  • Bokashi composting handles virtually all food wastes, even cheese, dairy, meat, fish, and leftover bones.
  •  The bokashi system is low odor. My bokashi bucket lives in the closet under my stairs, and I really can’t smell anything from the compost at all!
  • Bokashi composting can be done indoors, which is ideal for college students who don’t have the luxury of a backyard.
  • Bokashi composting doesn’t attract insects, not even fruit flies.
  • Bokashi composting doesn’t produce greenhouse gases. While normal composting processes produce CO2, the types of microbes that produce methane can’t survive in the acidic conditions of the bokashi bucket.5
  • Stage two of bokashi composting requires that you bury your waste in a hole in the ground, which might not be feasible for students.

Solution: Bury your bokashi waste in a large indoor or balcony planter. Give your compost to someone who has a backyard. Donate your bokashi compost to a local garden.

  •  Purchasing the bokashi itself is an added expense that will have to be paid somewhat regularly. Even if you make bokashi yourself, you’ll still have to purchase the materials.

Solution: Although you have to purchase ingredients, one batch can last for a long time. You’ll also save money on things like garbage liners and fertilizer, which you’ll use less frequently!

For college students looking for a way to create less waste, the bokashi system is an ideal form of composting because it’s odorless and can be done indoors.

Now even if this blog post hasn’t convinced you to go out and buy a bokashi system, I really encourage you to try and become more aware of your waste and the number of times you’re hauling your trash to the dumpster each month. Take your own personal Zero Waste Week challenge, and keep checking the blog for an in-depth look at the Live Green! team’s experience with the challenge!


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For more about the Bokashi composting process, check out the links below:

Author: Laurelin Haas, Live Green! Campus and Community Engagement intern
Featured Image: