Sustainapalooza encourages recycling and sustainability efforts


Jack McClellan

Steve Kohtz, Iowa State’s recycling coordinator pictured informing students on the importance of recycling.

Sustainapalooza was hosted as a partnering event for the Symposium on Sustainability, where students got to network with sustainability leaders from Ames and around campus.

In addition to local foods and food ingredients, there was a clothing swap, sustainability-inspired artwork and table displays at the event. Sustainapalooza was held from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Memorial Union.

Ashley Kleve, a junior majoring in environmental science and president of the Slackline Club and The Green Umbrella, said that the Slackline Club is working to improve student engagement.

“Right now we just have a few members that come, but in the spring we’re looking to grow that and make some more friends,” Kleve said.

Kleve also explained that The Green Umbrella student organization founded Sustainapalooza in 2012. She said the club aims to network with local businesses and get people talking about sustainability.

Patrick Kinn looks for jeans in his size at the clothing swap at the Sustainapalooza on Feb. 21, 2023. (Meghan Agnew)

“Our goal is to bring as many people in our community together and have a conversation about sustainability, especially with our members,” Kleve said. “We bring in leaders around the community, so other club leaders or business owners or professors, to talk about what they’re passionate about, and we love to collaborate and do events like this one.”

Sophia Strathearn, a sophomore majoring in apparel, merchandising, and design, was in attendance for the second time. She said she was interested in the clothing swap.

“I really liked the clothing swap clothes last time, the free food is great and it’s just a really great environment where everyone’s very friendly, and we all have similar environmental goals,” Strathearn said.

Gina Holtzbauer, supervisory secretary for the facilities planning and management department, explained the clothing drive and said they are trying to reach out to as many people as possible.

“We’re trying to help reduce [and] reuse clothing in our clothing drive, so people are bringing in items, and then they can swap them out for new items,” Holtzbauer said.

Rae Earnest, a senior majoring in chemistry, said she and some other visitors spoke to representatives for Reiman Gardens, who provided more information about their services.

“I didn’t know that [Reiman Gardens] had more than just [large] events, and they had some farming and seeds that we were interested in,” Earnest said.

Steve Kohtz, the recycling and special events coordinator for the facilities planning and management department, was at the event to promote proper recycling and reducing waste.

“I want to help our students and our faculty and staff understand that we do something different than Ames does,” Kohtz said.

Kohtz said campus waste goes to a resource recovery plant rather than a landfill which implements a fourth step of recycling.

“Our waste does go to the resource recovery plant, which is the best option for the fourth step of recycling rather than sending all of our waste in plastic bags to the landfill,” Kohtz said.

Prem Paul, a junior in management information systems, pictured serving food to Cavannah Yap, a graduate student in animal science, during Sustainapalooza Feb. 21, 2022. (Jack McClellan)

Kohtz said sending waste to landfills in plastic bags creates 25% of the methane emissions, the most significant contributor of greenhouse gas.

Kohtz wants to help students understand that the largest issue around recycling on campus is when food and liquids go into the recycling bins rather than compost.

“By 2025, we want to be 85% waste diverted, so 85% of our waste will go other places than the landfill or to the resource recovery plan,” Kohtz said.

Caroline Dickhausen, a sophomore majoring in genetics and psychology and a representative of the biological sciences club, promoted the opportunities the club provides students.

“It’s a great way to meet faculty, be exposed to internships, and learn about many different areas of biology,” Dickhausen said.

Isabel Yates, a junior majoring in marketing, said she was inspired to attend Sustainapalooza because of a course she is taking.

“I’m in a globe class where we get extra credit for coming, and I’m a sustainability minor so I just thought it’d be really cool opportunity to meet with some of the businesses around Ames and see what clubs they have to offer,” Yates said.

Matlyn Rebelsky, a senior majoring in environmental science, said she attended the event for her second year with an interest in the clubs and clothing swap.

“I came last year and I really liked the clothing swap a lot and the activities that you can do,” Rebelsky said.