Sustainapalooza event to enlighten students


Jessica Darland/Iowa State Daily

The Office of Sustainability hosted this year’s “Sustainapalooza” in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union on Feb. 24. There were informational booths set up and activities for students to participate in, such as signing a pledge, make-your-own lip balm and pine cone air fresheners, creating hats for cancer patients and walking down the green carpet. Michael Snook, senior in computer engineering, looks at a prototype bike for a possible bike share program. 

Erin Gruba

Students are welcome to attend an event Tuesday that recognizes the importance of moving forward with a greener lifestyle.

Sustainapalooza will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Memorial Union. The event, as well as all activities, will be free for students.

This event is hosted and sponsored by The Green Umbrella, a student-run sustainability group, and Iowa State’s Office of Sustainability.

“We hold these events like Sustainapalooza in order to show students how they can be more sustainable by doing the little things such as remembering to turn your lights off [and] turning the faucet off when you’re brushing your teeth,” said Madisun VanGundy, senior in public relations and member of The Green Umbrella.

Hands-on activities at four “Green-It-Yourself” centers will be available at the event. The hands-on activities this year focus on a few different themes. Previous themes include sustainable fashion, eating and cleaning.

In addition to the activities, students will have the chance to get free food and sustainable giveaways that include basil pot plants and key-ring car chargers. The event will also show a documentary titled “Racing Extinction,” and have an art and poster display.

As a new addition to Sustainapalooza, clothes will be recycled through a clothing swap booth called “Exchange for Change.” Students can bring items of clothing they don’t want and pick out an equal amount of new clothing items.

For every $2 or non-perishable food item people bring in, they receive an item of clothing in exchange.

Living sustainably does not just start and end at Sustainapalooza. Students can find ways to be sustainable around campus and in dorms.

VanGundy said she focuses on the small things. She conserves water, energy and fuel where she can. She walks or takes the bus to class and is aware of how much food she throws away. She takes shorter showers and unplugs electronics when she isn’t using them.

VanGundy said for bigger changes to be implemented in regard to sustainability, policy makers will need to take action. But at Iowa State, it is just as important to monitor how much food and trash we throw away each day.

Laurelin Haas, who is also a member of The Green Umbrella and a senior in community and regional planning, said being sustainable isn’t just about the environment, but there are three components — environment, economy and equity.

Laurelin suggests taking a class, attending a lecture or volunteering to become more aware. In general, she said there are many easy changes people can make in their daily routine such as taking public transportation, biking or walking to class and work, packing their lunch in a reusable bag and supporting local vendors.

“[Supporting local vendors is] an important aspect of social sustainability,” Haas said. “Social sustainability is really about having a strong community base [and] fostering connections within the community, and also includes things like volunteering.”

Haas said she also has a composting system in her apartment and buys second-hand clothing to practice sustainability.

She said one thing students on campus may not realize they are doing that is sustainable is using reusable water bottles.

A reduction for waste management on campus is the solar trash compactors, which work through a global positioning system that send messages to the waste management staff to come pick them up only when necessary, rather than needing someone to come around and check them all the time.

“It’s totally free,” Haas said. “You can stay for as long as you want – all three hours or 15 minutes – it’s really up to you. “Either way, I think you’re going to be taking away a great experience and you’ll be more informed about sustainability at ISU, in the community and the concept in general.”