Three Facets of Sustainability

At Iowa State University, the Live Green! Initiative seeks to educate, engage and empower students, faculty, staff or anyone visiting Iowa State's campus about the all-encompassing opportunity of living a sustainable life through the three facets of sustainability. Living sustainably makes a powerful impact on us individually, but also collectively on our colleagues, friends, families and communities. This translates to leaving the world a more sustainable and resilient place for future generations. 

Each facet of sustainability is highlighted below. In addition, take action by putting the three facets in practice with simple, though effective, opportunities to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.


A Collage Image of three photos. Each photo has Students enjoying sustainable events.


Environmental sustainability is the facet with which we are likely most familiar -- recycling is often one of the first things to come to mind. However, environmental sustainability is so much more, including all behaviors that strive to ensure the natural ebb and flow of our ecosystems. Therefore, taking care of the earth as we enjoy our many journeys and adventures by being environmentally-sustainable is an important factor in promoting a sustainable future for our planet home.

A collage of three images. Students at work assisting each other with some project


Social sustainability involves embracing the diversity of our world (both globally and locally), connecting to our communities and giving back through volunteerism. Through social sustainability, we become socially aware and connected to ensure our growth into global citizens -- acting in kindness to and having an interest in experiencing new adventures with whom we meet and greet along the way. In sum, embracing our community by understanding the variety of rich and colorful cultures of the world, as well as discovering how we can support one another through everyday opportunities, encompasses social sustainability.

A collage of three images shows three different organizations aligned and smiling for the camera.


Economic sustainability is a critical component to functioning successfully in today's world, as everything around us seems to be connected to and impacted by financial well-being. Implementing equitable and financially-sound practices related to monetary decisions is critical for us as individuals, as well as for the communities in which we live. Therefore, taking steps to plan for a secure, financial future, as well as to consider how we support our local economy, ensures economic sustainability, both individually and collectively.