Courses / 2013 Spring - IES Reader Improvement (Angelica - Shono - Sam)

Student Readers (Samantha Schwartz, Angelica Bishop, Shono Nagai)

1. What is the Action?

We would work with IES administration to improve the usage of "readers" at IES Barcelona. "Readers" are the booklets of class readings that some teachers give students for the semester. However, there are many flaws with this system. 1) Not every teacher creates a reader (which requires students to print readings, which is a problem because the printers often do not work so students end up printing more than they need to), 2) Students must purchase a new reader each semester (no recycling whatsoever = wasteful), and 3) The print layout of many readers inefficiently uses the space provided, and ends up wasting paper. Our action hopes to improve the use of readers in IES by requiring all teachers to create readers for their classes (placing all readings into a durable, reusable binder), reformat the print layout prior to printing the contents of the reader, and establish a deposit for the reader to raise the rate of return of readers and to lower the need for new readers each semester. This would include students paying a 20 euro deposit on the first day upon receiving the binders/readers, and getting that money (20euro) back on the last day for returning their binder/reader in good condition.

1.1. Similar Actions from Previous Semesters

In Fall of 2012, Michael Moran created an action design entitled "Recycling Readers" where he hoped to create a binder system so that the readers used each semester don't go to waste and so that they can be altered and reused for future semesters. He also mentioned the possibility of online readers in his design.
We support his plan to improve the reader system at IES; however, we did see flaws in his plan and believe that our similar action would improve the reader system. For example, we learned that going "online" is not an effective way to save paper and eliminate waste, because student end up printing on their own copies, often times not as efficiently as possible. We support Michael's idea to use binders, because then it is easier for teachers to add and remove readings over the different semesters. We would keep his idea of binders, but also add the requirement for all teachers to participate, for a more effective print layout that utilizes all the paper space available, and for deposits to be made with the students.

Recycling Readers. 2012 Fall. Michael Moran. http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Recycling+Readers+%28Michael+Moran%29&structure=2012b+Fall+Actions

1.1.1. Why This or a Similar Action Didn't Succeed in Previous Semesters?

There has not been a successful implementation of this so far by IES Abroad Barcelona. This action could make the concept a real possibility, however. The first step is to make sure that teachers format their next set of readers properly, so that there is no wasted space on the page (as that is simply a waste of paper). The next step is to find binders that come from a LOIS business, are affordable, and durable, such as Abacus. The next step is to get the "readers" printed, and sorted into the binders. Whether this is a service provided by the printing company, of if teachers will need to do so is uncertain. However, once assembled, these readers are ready to be used by the next set of students.
The price of the readers is currently included in the tuition at IES. However, there is not currently a deposit system put in place. If students were able to get back the money with which they paid for the readers, the rate of return would increase. This has been a problem in the past and could be solved if an incentive to return the readers was given to the students. This way, there would be less of a need to reprint more readers.
Upon departure, students would return them to the teachers directly, who would look make sure there are no damaged or missing pages; replacing a couple hundred pages is better than reprinting a few hundred entire booklets. Before our departure to the USA, we believe that it is practical for us to discuss or ideas with IES so that teachers can begin to reformat their readings for print in time for this to become reality for the fall semester (since it will take time to reformat, etc. it is not necessarily possible for the summer semester).
This action also includes the initiative for students to actually return the binders (getting money back). Students have not returned their readers in the past, which is why other similar projects have failed. However, if there is monetary incentive, most (if not all) students are much more likely to participate and make this system possible.

1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • More paper and ink will be conserved than in previous semesters with the new layout
  • Saves money and prevents students from printing out numerous pages for their readings
  • The binders will allow teachers to add or remove material if necessary without printing new readers
  • Deposit incentive system will save readers for future IES students
  • The binders will be durable, reusable, and biodegradable.

  • Need to find a group of people willing to organize the deposit program
  • Donated readers may be damaged, resulting in printing more pages

  • For all students to have printed readings, and therefore, students may be encouraged to read the material more
  • Teachers have the opportunity to change certain readings without printing more paper
  • Students can earn back their money by returning their books

  • Students can damage the readers
  • Students may not participate in the deposit incentive program, resulting in printing more readers

To get rid of the weaknesses, we can first try to organize a group of people either (IES students or administration) to organize deposit program, through advertisement. We need to find dedicated people that are willing to make the program work. The program can set a standard of what is acceptable for returned readers from the students.

To prevent ourselves from threats, we can advertise the incentive program as much as we can throughout the IES community. Also, we can make a clear standardization of what conditions of readers are acceptable to take back and what conditions are not.

1.3. Feedback Loops

A balancing loop that we have identified in our proposal is as follows:
Teachers redesign binders and new binders are printed/placed into binders, which leads to an increase in ability to reuse for future semesters, which lowers need to redesign, reprintm and reaseemble new binders.

1.4. Advertising

At the beginning of the semester, when the readers are handed out, students will be well aware of the deposit incentive system. Professors will be required to explain to the students of the system. The reader program will be advertised throughout fliers in the school as well as in one of the pages in the IES Agenda that students receive at the beginning of each semester. On the last day of each class, students will return their readers to the teacher that distributed it, sign an agreement that they have returned the book and recieved their deposit back, and walk away with their 20 euro deposit form the first day of class.

We also created a sample flyer to include in student orientation packets that are distributed upon arrival in the airport. (Document Format: PDF file; created online)
Image Reader Flyer

2. Why This Action Makes Things More Sustainable

We believe that our action to renovate the reader system will improve the sustainability of IES Abroad Barcelona. First of all, re-using readers over each semester will save paper because new booklets will not be printed every single semester and then put to waste after the semester ends. Rather, the same paper would be reused as much as possible until it needs to be replaced, or until the teacher makes changes to the required reading assignments. Our action would also save paper by improving the print format of the readings; it would utilize the blank space on the paper rather than leaving inches of blank space unused on each page. Not only is this action more eco-efficient, but it is also more effective because it physically reduces the consumption of resources used and the waste of one semester (readers that would be thrown away by departing students) literally becomes food for the next semester (readers being used by incoming students). The difference between it being simply efficient and actually being effective is recycling paper (i.e. in a bin, and still reprinting new readers each year onto recycled paper) versus using the old readers and only making changes needed as the syllabi change and reusing them for new IES students.

This action would change the attitude of all members of the IES Barcelona community. Both teachers and students would see the importance of printing less if the action of reusing and not wasting paper is encouraged through the program itself. It would also reduce IES's dependency on paper and printer ink because less of both resources would be needed and used each semester. In fact, students in particular depend on printers to access their homework. However, if their homework is already printed efficiently in a binder, then they will seldom need to use the printer. This, in turn, also reduces the ecological footprint of the program, as it will be consuming fewer resources each year. This action will only have incredible long-term results because the amount of paper (and ink) used each year will be significantly lower and will make IES Abroad Barcelona a more sustainable place.

2.1. Potential Costs

We plan to take the money from students’ tuition, since they already cover the cost of readers in the tuition. We would be utilizing this money to create a deposit incentive that would reduce the reprinting of materials each semester.
We decided to use Abacus because it is a local business that has a firm commitment to the environment. This company seeks to minimize impact on the environment through reducing, reusing, and recycling waste in its offices, stores, and warehouses. It also introduces environmental criteria in the design of its new facilities and improves old ones; for example, it is constructing solar panels for its facilities. Its slogan, “Abacus = R3, sustainable formula” promotes its successful campaign on its reusable, compostable bags.
Unfortunately, we were unable to find concrete prices on their website. We tried to call a couple times but were either unsuccessful in getting someone to answer and once the language barrier was too great to overcome. Better planning on our part in terms of going into the store to ask about prices would have been more successful. However, we instead consulted an american brand that is often used in bulk orders to get an estimated price. According to STAPLES, each binder would cost $8.49 each in a bulk order.
If 400 binders were ordered at once, that would come to a total of about $849.
We realize that this seems unrealistically high for a student project; however, when compared to the amount of money spent every semester on the paper and ink for printing and the binding of each reader, IES Abroad Barcelona would save money in the long run using this action. This is not only more ecologically effective, but it is economically sound and prudent as well.

3. How Will You Implement It

In order to implement this action, we would need to discuss our ideas with the IES Abroad Barcelona Administration. We would also need to make sure that all teachers are on the same page about the project so that they understand its goals and purpose. After getting everybody on board, Abacus would produce good, durable binders that would be purchased (one per student, plus some extras to keep in store just in case they are needed). Then we would have each teacher submit a "proposal" for their print layout that will need to be approved (as confirmation that all available space is being utilized). After being approved, the readings for each class will be printed (preferable on eco-friendly paper, but it must be durable). Then, the binders will be assembled and ready to present to students. The money for these binders will be covered with the cost that students currently pay for readers, but after a year of usage, the price per semester will be significantly lower (for students and thus for IES) because less will need to be printed.

3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" Design

The waste produced each semester at IES with just the readers alone (not to mention the individual prints that students make and later throw away) is appalling. Our action would transform the reader system at IES Abroad Barcelona into a "Cradle to Cradle" design. The waste produced one semester (old readers) would literally become 'food' for the next semester, as it would supply the reader for the next semester's students without reprinting the entire reader each semester. With our action, the only waste produced each semester would be either pages that have been significantly damaged in each reader that require replacement, or readings that teachers wish to add or remove from the reader. This "Cradle to Cradle" reader design would significantly improve sustainability at IES Abroad Barcelona.

3.2. Questions for the Unified Survey

We would be interested in surveying students about their perception of the current reader system/printers at school.

Sample Survey Questions:

1. How many times do you use the printer per week?
2. How many sheets of papers do you normally print per day?
3. Does the current printer satisfy your needs?
4. Do you prefer to read your readings online, or on paper?
5. Would you return a reader if it meant getting back your entire deposit (i.e. pay 20euro deposit on first day, return reader, recieve 20euro deposit back)?

3.3. Incentives

Following Michael's previous design, there would be the incentive for students to return their new readers because they would receive their deposit for the reader at the end of the semester if they return the new readers (in good condition).
It is also less work for the teachers, since they would not have to go through the trouble of putting together a new reader each semester.
There is a lot of incentive for students to return the readers (thus making the project successful) because at the end of studying abroad, many are low on money, and receiving 20 euros back can make a big difference. They would also take good care of them if it meant getting that money back too. The deposit and return is a good incentive for students to facilitate this system, which is a good incentive for IES to try to implement it and save thousands of dollars/euros on paper, ink, printing, etc.

3.4. Relationship with the Other Initiatives Being Implemented

This action relates to the recycling initiative by Allie Mcdonald and Claudia Zajac because it aims to save paper.

3.5. How Will This Action Be Sustained When You Are Not Here?

A "Reader Recycling Club"can make sure all readers that are bought back or donated, are in acceptable condition at the end of the semester. Therefore, when the new IES students come, they will have these readers for their class. The next group of IES students who are willing to manage the program will take over. This new reader system will also, ideally, be integrated into IES's custom practices as well. Therefore, the action will be sustained over the course of future semesters because it is a more prudent system for IES Abroad Barcelona to adopt than the current reader system.The practicality of the action makes it inherently easy to survive, continue, and thrive at IES Abroad Barcelona.

3.6. Comparison to Similar Actions from Previous Semesters

There are many similarities between our implementation and the previous semesters. First of all, we are both printing out readers for every student as well as using biodegradable binders. Also, we are trying to get the readers back, so that we can reuse it for the next set of students. Both actions need an organized group to lead the recycling program.
The difference between our two actions, is that unlike the action from the previous semester, we give the students a choice to get their money back for the readers at the end of the semester. We feel that with this incentive, the students will be more willing to comply with the reader recycling program.

4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

Beginning of next semester Fall 2013
August-September- Orientation eladers explain the reader system, hand out flyers, and snwer any questions students may have. Professors hand out readers on first day of classes and collect the 20 euro deposit from each student.
September-October- IES employee/ reader recycling club meet once or twice to advertise program and organize collection at the end to ensure maximal participation.
Novemeber-December- Teachers remind students about reader/binder return. On the last day of classes, students return their reader/binder to the teacher that distributed it and crecieve their 20 euro deposit back.

4.1. Who Will Do What

The reader recycling club (with the help of IES administration) will advertise and collect the readers at the end of each semester. We have provided a preliminary flyer for advertisement.
The orientation leaders will explain the program, and teachers will hand the readers out and collect the 20 euro deposit from each student at the beginning of the semester, and finally, recieve the readers at the end of semester upon their return, and give students their deposits back. (IES Administration could hold the deposits so that there is no controversy over where the money is going and whether students will get it back or no.)

5. Bibliography

Abacus Cooperativa. 2012 (Updated). (Author Unknown - Business). http://abacus.coop/es/productes-abacus/marca-abacus/

Recycling Readers. 2012 Fall. Michael Moran. http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Recycling+Readers+%28Michael+Moran%29&structure=2012b+Fall+Actions

Recycling Bins. 2013 Spring. Allie Mcdonald and Claudia Zajac

Staples. 2013 (Updated). (Author Unknown - Business). http://www.staples.com/Binders-Accessories/cat_CG2)

We are using the Attribution Creative Commons license for our website, since we created it through sc.seeds4c.org, which has a Creative Commons license.
The Attribution License is beneficial to our webpage because people can easily make changes to it as long as they credit our work. Also, it allows people to share our work so perhaps it could be adopted in other programs.

5.2. What did you learn and what did you incorporate from the feedback received?

We fixed our format and decided to make our program mandatory. We created an incentive system that would encourage students to return the readers.

5.3. Acknowledgements

Thanks to the class for making suggestions on our project, and to Professor de Pedro for suggesting the LOIS business of Abacus.

5.4. Students involved in this action

Samantha Schwartz
Angelica Bishop
Shono Nagai
We all split the work equally to come up with ideas, write, and edit the report.

Page last modified on Sunday 07 of April, 2013 22:40:46