Students walk to green carpet at Sustainapolooza

Cystainability Staff

A celebration took place yesterday in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union.  But it was not athletics or academics that was being celebrated but the strides that Iowa State is taking in the field on sustainability. The event was appropriately called Sustainapalooza.  

The event kicked off with a greeting from Merry Rankin from the Office of Sustainability and a speech by President Steven Leath.

“I’m really proud of what’s going on here,” Leath said regarding the university’s sustainability efforts.  

After his speech he headed over to the green carpet to cut the ribbon, opening up the area for students to walk through. 

The green carpet, which was situated in the middle of the Great Hall, was emphasized by two walls on either side.  One side was lined with paper and allowed students to share how they were practicing sustainability in their everyday lives.  The other side featured a paper-tree cut.  On paper leaves, students were given the opportunity to write out pledges as to how they were going to further implement sustainability into their lives and tape them to the tree.  

Each wall was decorated with reusable materials, such as plastic grocery bags, aluminum cans and newspapers.  The “green carpet” was also a reusable product, being old turf from the athletics department.  Once at the end of the green carpet, students could get their picture taken and receive sustainable gifts, such as plantable post-cards and a Sustainapalooza water pouch. 

Chandra Peterson, co-president of the Green Umbrella student organization, said, “We are celebrating and learning at the same time.”  

As part of the learning experience, campus green groups and organizations, such as custodial services, were invited to display posters with information about their group and how they were contributing to the sustainable environment.  

Students were also able to learn about how to contribute to sustainability in their personal lives. Three enrichment stations were assembled to teach students how to conserve energy and reuse materials they have at home. 

One enrichment station was headed by the city of Ames Smart Energy program. Steve Wilson, also known as “the energy guy”, started out his presentation by handing out true or false quizzes to see how much everyone knew about smart energy practices. After giving out the answers, he asked if anyone had gotten all ten questions right. No one raised their hand.

Examples of energy smart practices mentioned by Wilson include: Using a dishwasher uses one-sixth the water than washing dishes by hand and replacing two 60-watt incandescent bulbs with two 15-watt CFL’s will save about $13 a year and remove about 215 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Shelene Codner, a resource specialist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and writer for Iowa Outdoors magazine, hosted a booth featuring “do-it-yourself” crafts, decorations and everyday items.

All the materials were recycled and reused with the goal of keeping them out of landfills. Items such as candle holders made out of soda cans, laundry and grocery bags made out of old T-shirts and gift bags made out of old magazines were displayed. 

Codner also discussed flower center piece ideas for events using old paper goods or photographs and origami techniques to construct the flowers that can then be placed in a vase. She also promoted sending in non-recyclable wrappers, such as chip bags and candy wrappers, to a company called Terracycle.

Terracycle is a company that gives money to the non-profit organizations and universities of a waste donator’s choice. The company then uses these wrappers to make things such as bags, pet and garden supplies and toys. 

Closets Collide is a new organization at Iowa State, and its mission is to reuse clothes either old or new by swapping them. Just recently they did their annual Spring Clothes Swap, where they encourage students and the Ames communities to clean out their closets and bring old clothes that are no longer a use for them and give them the opportunity to swap for clothes they like.

This event saves money and is a sustainable way to give and reuse old clothes. They not only target ISU students but also the Ames community as well, by hosting their annual swaps on local facilities.

The club Closets Collide meets every Thursday at 6 p.m., and the room changes weekly.

Sustainapalooza was a showcase for the sustainability accomplishments at Iowa State. “I think it has been a fantastic event for everyone, students, faculty and staff, to celebrate our efforts and accomplishments in sustainability and living green,” Rankin said.  “I look forward to our [continuing] work.”