In the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concern, Earth, we adhere to the United Nations’ definition that sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

People and Planet

At Mount Mercy University, sustainability is about people and planet. We are guided by the Sisters of Mercy’s Critical Concerns and 17 United Nations’ Sustainability Goals—where everyone can participate in sustainability and make this planet a place for all to thrive.

Sustainability includes socio-cultural, economic, and environmental perspectives, including human rights, equality, diversity, poverty reduction, corporate responsibility, natural resources, biodiversity, sustainable development, and climate change.

Sustainability at MMU takes many forms:

  • Converting to LED lights
  • Providing single-stream recycling
  • Reducing food waste in the cafeteria and plastic waste
  • Using more environmentally-friendly products
  • Integrating native plants on campus
  • Providing the Mustang Market to help food-insecure students
  • Offering service trips that focus on poverty reduction and diversity
  • Creating the Environmental Community Organizers (ECO) Club for students
  • Including sustainability in our curriculum across our diverse majors and minors

We are constantly looking for ways to make Mount Mercy University sustainable for future students and our surrounding community.


  • Rain gardens—Our two campus rain gardens are located outside our historical Warde Hall. Every year, these gardens help infiltrate up to 35,000 gallons of water each, protecting water quality and introducing Iowa’s native plants onto campus.

  • LED lights—The Office of Sustainability, Student Government Association, and Facilities have worked together to install LED lights throughout many areas of campus to reduce our carbon impact.

  • Geothermal—The University Center is heated and cooled using 100% geothermal technology. Using the warmth of the earth, we are able to keep our building at a comfortable temperature without using fossil fuels.

  • Pollinator garden—In 2019, we installed a pollinator garden at the University Center. This garden is 100% Iowa native plants. You will find flowers like Common Milkweed and Prairie Blazing Star and grasses like Little Blue Stem. You might even see our official state flower, the Meadow Rose.

  • Bioswales—Storm water is a key issue in Cedar Rapids, and Mount Mercy is working to be part of the solution. At our Rinderknecht Athletic Center, we installed bioswales to reduce runoff from our parking lots and protect water quality.

  • Composting—Food waste is a growing concern in the U.S. and around the world. Our food services director tracks food consumption to ensure that we limit food waste. All pre-consumer waste is composted to improve our state’s soils and limit our carbon impact.

  • Recycling—At Mount Mercy, we believe in reducing waste and reusing whenever possible. If waste is unavoidable, we recycle as much as we can. Our facilities, print shop, faculty, students, and staff all work together to ensure that waste is recycled properly. From paper and plastic to print cartridges and appliances, our goal is to reduce landfill waste and our environmental impact.

“Mount Mercy’s sustainability program proved that sustainability is an achievable goal that requires a paradigm shift. This shift is begins at the age where us young adults are capable of making decisions on our own for our future.”

Ethan Wherry '20

Tips to Care for the Earth

  • Find alternatives to single-use plastics and other single-use items (grocery bags, sandwich bags, bottled water, single-serving packaged snacks, straws, etc.). 

  • Recycle what you do use (electronics, appliances, paper, plastic, metals).

  • Reduce meat consumption.

  • Buy local and/or sustainability sourced products whenever possible.

  • Limit your driving by finding efficient routes and schedules to avoid backtracking and multiple trips.

  • Replace inefficient appliances and utilities with ones that reduce your energy and water consumption.

  • If possible, compost. If you live in Cedar Rapids, items like plant-based food scraps, napkins, and paper towels go in your yard waste bin.