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Composting Barcelona

1. Composting


1.1. What

The goal for my action is to create a more sustainable environment by using a compost bin in my apartment in Barcelona. I live with 5 girls who have each individually agreed to take part in my action. I purchased a compost bin which we keep in our kitchen. At the end of the semester I hope to use the soil produced from the compost bin for our plants on our terrace. In addition have spoken with one of our neighbors who said she would love to have our compost bin when we leave in May which she will then continue using in her apartment.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

This action improves Sustainability because it results in many positive elements for our environment.

1. Change in attitude: Composting has brought awareness to my roommates, myself, and our neighbors about how our environment is being affected by the waste that goes into landfills and the greenhouse gases that are contributing to the breakdown of our atmosphere. Although it was gross at times we knew it was for a good cause. I think as a result we have become more aware because instead of using bags at grocery stores we bring our own bags from home to use.

2. This action will help reduce dependency on chemical fertilizers, water, trash bags, and soil.

3. Eco Effectiveness: By re-thinking the way we use our waste by purchasing a compost bin we have contributed to Eco Effectiveness.

4. Long term: it will have long term effects on our environment by reducing the amount of chemicals used in soils that are harmful to our environment as well as decreasing the input of chemicals and waste products into landfills. It is expensive to maintain landfills and also a lot of energy comes into relocating the waste once the landfills are full.

1.2.1. SWOT Analysis

Strengths: reduces toxins, returns organic matter and nutrients to soil for reuse, inexpensive alternative to chemical fertilizers(reduces money spent on fertilizers), barely costs anything to compost except initial purchase of compost bin, volume of wastes transported to landfills is reduced, saves energy for transporting waste material, increased production of different crops, spreads awareness to roommates, using soil for plants on balcony of apartment, reduction of plastic garbage bags, reduces biodegradable wastes from landfills, reduces carbon emissions by re-using waste matter, helps maintain pH of soil so plants absorb nutrients slower which ultimately creates healthier crops, also helps improve structure, density and texture of soil which improves nutrient retention and helps prevent erosion, encourages production of micro-organisms (mainly bacteria and fungi) which break down organic matter, makes crops healthier for humans to eat.

Weaknesses: can smell, dirty, can attract pests/animals, easier and cleaner just to throw things away, takes up space, roommates may not agree to use at all times, takes up time and care, you can’t compost everything, can take a long time to produce enough soil for use.

Opportunity: economic opportunity, educes cost of soil, water and pesticides, garbage bags, improves vitamin and mineral content in food, EcoEuro system incentives, helps control soil erosion, contributes to eliminating global warming.

Threat: Apartment owners do not allow you to set composting bins in apartment or use soil for garden.

1.2.2. Feedback loops

Compost bin=increased nutrients in soil=increased nutrients in crops=healthier for human consumption=people should compost

Compost bin=eliminates waste sent to landfills=reduces space taken up by landfills=reduces amount of energy spent on landfills=improves environment=people should compost

Compost bin=decreases toxic substances entering air=increases air quality=improves human health=people should compost

Compost bin=decreases harmful and toxic wastes=decreases methane and other toxins released into landfills=improves global warming=people should compost

1.2.3. Potential Benefits

Potential benefits include: saves landfill space, saves energy for transporting waste material, creation of high quality fertilizer at a location where it can be used (again, saves energy), plastic garbage bags are reduced, reduces toxins, healthier for crops and environment, provides nutrient rich food, reduces production of methane which damages the Earth’s atmosphere

1.2.4. Potential Costs

Potential costs include the cost of a compost bin, students will need to be committed fully to purchasing, managing, and continuing out the action. It also can be time consuming when it comes to cleaning and emptying it out which we had to do pretty often.

1.3. How

Ideally this action will raise awareness and inspire students next semester who live in apartments to purchase a compost bin for their action.

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

By composting we help to restore valuable nutrients and eliminate harmful toxins to our atmosphere and humans in general. We also reduce the waste entering landfills which will ultimately conserve natural resources and energy. Toxic pollutions can escape into the hair and end up in the water and air we breathe. Reducing landfill size not only creates more space for other uses but also minimizes the amount of energy required to eventually relocate the waste. Methane and other gases such as nitric oxide are released into landfills contributes not only to global warming problems but to poor air quality as well.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

1. Would you consider composting in our apartment?

2. If answered yes, would you take the time to read about someone else’s experience composting in order to learn from their mistakes?

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

Question 1: 55% yes, 10% can’t because they live in home stay, 25% no, 5% yes if they were provided with resources necessary to do so.

Question 2: 50% yes, 50% no

It seems as though people would consider composting if they had their own apartment and were provided with the proper resources to do so. However, I’m not sure if people would be willing to take the time to bring their accumulated compost to IES or to a garden.

I would incorporate this question into the survey for next semester because I think its important otherwise it would be a waste to compost if you are not willing to complete the circle and use it in a beneficial way.

1.3.4. Incentives

I think using the EcoEuro system would be an incentive to composting. Students could receive eco euros in exchange for donating their compost bin to IES. In addition, possibly giving a prize such as a gift card to the person who provides the most amount of compost at the end of the semester. This would cost money but would be beneficial in the long run because it would give students an incentive to compost.

1.3.5. Relationship with the "Sustainability Club" (SC)

A relationship with the sustainability club because of the Eco Euro system. The sustainbility club will provide the eco euros to those students who donate their compost to the IES garden.

1.3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?

I think composting is a simple action that students will definitely take part in next semester as a continued action. Although I have decided to donate my compost bin to a neighbor, other students may choose to donate their compost bin to the IES building or even using their soil in the garden on the terrace at IES. There is a slim chance that IES would accept a donated compost bin but students can find other organizations to donate their bins. Or they could keep them in their apartment for the next tenants.

1.3.7. Document format

The document format for my action page is html

Attribution CC BY: I would choose this license because it allows others to copy, distribute, tweak and build upon my work as long as they give me credit for my original world. I chose to pick this license so that others can view my work and gain information about the benefits of composting on our environment. This will allow others to pass along information and hopefully inspire others to become aware and be proactive.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

January=students need to contact Agenda 21 or another organization in order to purchase a compost bin
Feburary/March/April=students need to put their waste in a compost bin for two months in order to accumulate as much soil as possible.
May=students need to use soil for a garden of their choice and then donate their compost bin to IES or another individual who agrees to carry out their action.

Marc Lallanilla, Seven Great Reasons to Compost, http://greenliving.about.com/od/thegreenyard/tp/compost.htm

Why is composting good? http://www.ehow.com/facts_5297340_composting-good.html

Earth 911, Benefits of Using Compost, http://earth911.com/news/2007/04/02/benefits-of-using-compost

1.6. Students involved in this action

I was the “official” leader of this action, however my roommates Martha Tahsler, Megan Bernstein, Molly Burton, and Sam Betterly contributed their waste to the compost bin in our apartment.

 Assignment 4: Peer review form

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Items found: 17
Grade per actionReviewerComments
88 agluskerI think it is so cool that you have started a compost system in your backyard, and even greater that you found some one to take it over while you are gone. I think the only limit to this action is that not all people can implement it in their home stays or dorms. Also, it is very time consuming and some students may not have the time or resources to create a compost in their backyard. Regardless it is very impressive that you have done this all semester.
93 Brian McNevinThis is a great idea and it is awesome that your neighbor agreed to take your composting bin after we leave, making your apartment more eco-effective and sustainable. Perhaps something IES could do in the future is rent out composting bins for students to use in future semesters for a small fee.
93 carlafI love idea of a compost bin. It's an extremely effective, feasible, attainable, and successful way of helping our environment. It will not only encourage students to think twice about what they are putting in their bodies but also how they are harming the environment by what they choose to eat. For instance, next time someone goes to an outdoor activity such as a baseball game, instead of eating popcorn or some other typical food found at stadiums, maybe they will bring an apple or something else that's biodegradable.
95 CFaheyI think this is a good action that is easy and multiple people can participate. It may be hard to find out who composted the most because students may not want to bring their compost to IES but I do like you said your neighbors are willing to take the bin upon your departure.
94 gnardiI really like this idea and I think it can be realistically implemented, which is very important. It is the smaller steps such as having a compost bin for you and your roommates that add up to really make a difference. Also, if this compost bin ends up working out for you, you can tell other students how successful and hopefully easy it was to have one.
95 jschayeWow your neighbor is very nice for helping you out like that. Maybe you could get other people to do that each year, I am sure people would like to receive something like that to make their apartments more sustainable.
96 Julia NuttI think that this is a really unique idea. I have always been interested in how a compost bin works and so maybe you could be more descriptive on how exactly it works and if your roommates contributed equally to it. I also think it would help to say what you learned from using a compost bin and the positives and the negatives. This is a great way to contribute to making your community more sustainable. I would express how this changed your diet? Did it help you to be healthier? I think that this is a great idea and I might even try this at home!
95 Kmacdonald4I think that composting a great idea and its very impressive that you have started your own bin in your apartment. It is a great example of the cradle to cradle concept we discussed in class because you are able to take left overs that would have otherwise been thrown away and use them to then grow more food. I think the biggest issue you will face with this action is just getting lots of students involved because its such an individual project.
93 m.bernsteinComposting is a great way to utilize the whole idea of waste=food concept. This action could be a create action to spread knowledge on how much food a single person discards daily and what that amount alone is doing to our environment and how if we keep at that rate what is going to happen.
93 MarthaMayGreat idea! By donating our compost bin to neighbors you are helping the larger community to become more sustainable AND you know that even after we are gone the action will be continued! Overtime it would be neat to see if a compost bin could be used in IES or if more students could participate by composting in their own apartments/dorms/homestays!
92 MbowermanIt's great that your action is going to go on after you all leave and that your neighbor is going to use your compost bin. It's definitely a great idea maybe you could put up fliers or something in the apartment encouraging others to use the bins too.
80 obiajuluI think that this si a great idea its not only sustainable but easy to continue.
92 seantubridyVery good idea to use a compost bin. I live in a homestay so it would be hard for me to do this action, but the people in apartments can easily start one. if it works out, you can use the compost soil for some of the other actions from students, such as the tomato one
94 SolomonBPWay to do your part in contributing to a more sustainable community. It is important for everyone to compost, but you can only control your own actions, so having you and all four of your roommates composting all semester is a good contribution. Plus by passing the composting bin a produce on to your neighbor, your action is ensured continuity within Barcelona. Then when you return to the U.S., you can continue your habit of composting, and therefore your actions is in use for life. If any vegetable plants do end up being planted this year on the terrace, it'd be great to have the help of your compost collection.
92 steph.eastlakeI think its really great that you are starting a compost system. I think that this action can be improved by finding a way to encourage other IES students to start a compost system in their apartments or living spaces. A way you can do this is use the blog space that other people in the class are doing and post how and what you did to make a compost system. Overall its a great idea.
79 vsienkieThis is a great idea and very sustainable. It is wonderful how your neighbor wants your compost in May because it keeps your action local and sustainable because you are turning your waste into food for your neighbors garden. In order to conserve your action for future semester maybe you could petition for IES to place compost bins in all student apartments with directions on how to use it. Then, there could be a shared bin of all the student compost that would be great for the garden terrace.
91 vydraThis is a very cool idea. I really like how your neighbor is willing to take it after you leave after the semester. If you could find a way to apply this action to make the IES program as a whole more sustainable, then this would be very beneficial.


 Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)

Items found: 2
2.2 Composting Barcelona (Sarah Cole) Good 1.1. "In addition have spoken with one of our neighbors who said she would love to have our compost bin when we leave in May which she will then continue using in her apartment.": Congratulations! (waste equals food!) 1.2.1. SWOT analysis: very well! Improvable 1.2. "Change in attitude": how did you achieve that? Do you imply than just by knowing that you did this, your neighbours and roommates changed their attitude towards their own waste? (is this change measurable somehow = are they also doing compost? did they change the type of products they buy? did they start rejecting plastic bags in shops because of your composting?. Please, expand/provide more details. "Eco-effectiveness": remember that effectiveness is not about reducing pollutants o decreasing the input of chemicals in landfils. It's about a re-design on the way we do things. You seem to be talking more about "Eco-efficiency". Adapt your text in either way. 1.2.2. close your loops (make the a full loop). 1.2.4. "bing" -> "bin" what about time spent? how often do you need to work on the composting bin? cleaning? re-aerating? stirring?... 1.3.1. Which "harmful toxins"? Moreover, "Methane and other gases released into landfills..." Which other gases? released "into" or "from"? "contributes not only to global warming problems but to poor air quality as well." cite some source where they are cited as such. 1.3.3. "However, I’m not sure if people would be willing to take the time to bring their accumulated compost to IES or to a garden. " would you recommend this question to be incorporated into the survey next semester, in case someone follows your action? in that case, say so... 1.3.4. "I think using the EcoEuro system would be an incentive to composting." In which way? describe how would you use it. 1.3.5. "Composting has no connection to the Sustainability Club..." The ecoeuro system is one connection to the SC. Clarify when you improve your section 1.3.4. 1.3.6. "I think composting is a simple action that people will..." Which "people"? (students, staff, faculty, "RA"...) "...donate their compost bin to the IES building or even using their soil in the garden on the terrace at IES. " As far as I know, this seems un-feasible, because IES Administration doesn't want composting bins on IES. If you can confirm that, then, rewrite your text to indicate that there are low changes that this may ever happen (indicate why, if possible). 1.3.8. Revise based on 2011a General comments 1.4. Revise based on 2011a General comments 1.5. Revise based on 2011a General comments Some pictures will help to see that you really implemented your action! And where did you keep your bin, how big, if closed by a lid or open somehow, etc. You say you bought it. Where? Price?
Good that you improved some sections. Feedback loops: They got worse after the first deadline. It not about what people should do. It's about loops of actions which reinforce or balance the first action of the whole circular chain (Read notes again about this topic of feedback loops). Agenda 21 is not an organization (but Terra Foundation) 2nd


Page last modified on Wednesday 04 of April, 2012 17:13:35