Courses / 2014b Fall / Not Everyone-s Going Home (Alex - Haley - Kaye - Anne-E)

Not Everyone's Going Home: End of the Semester Unwanted Items Donation Drive for the Homeless by Alex, Haley, Kaye, Anne-Elizabeth


The action we have proceeded to implement is an initiative to encourage students to give back to the community and contribute to a more sustainable environment by donating common items such as clothes that they don't wish to bring home with them at the end of the semester. With limited space in suitcases as is we feel that students will take advantage of this opportunity and be even more incentivized and inclined to participate knowing that their unwanted items are going to a good cause. This is implemented through a cardboard box placed on the first floor of IES and the communication with both the students on the opportunity and collaboration with the local Homeless shelter, Arrels Fundacio. The majority of this action is expected to take place in the last week of school as students will be packing up and figuring out which items they don't wish to take back with them. The last day the members of this action would then proceed to bring these donations to Arrels Fundacio. Our intent is for this action to be continued in future semester and communication and support with Arrels Funadacio to continue.

1. What Is the Action?

Our sustainable action seeks to combine an environmentally friendly initiative with one that also helps people in need. We plan to place a cardboard box in the IES first floor lobby for students and staff to donate unwanted items like clothing, shoes, electronics, and books. We will include a sign by the box that reminds students that these items should still be in working, clean condition. As the end of the semester approaches and students begin to pack up their belongings, they will most likely find that they have accumulated an excess of these items and cannot bring everything back. Rather than throw these things out, we wish to collect the items and donate them to a local Barcelona homeless shelter. In this way, we will be preventing useful items from being thrown out and ending up in a landfill, while also helping needy people in Barcelona.

We have selected the Arrels Fundació (http://www.arrelsfundacio.org), an organization that services homeless individuals in Barcelona, as the potential recipient of our donations. We are still awaiting a response from the shelter, but since future students can add to the donation pile until an organization expresses a need for these items, we are not concerned that this is an issue.

1.1. Similar Actions From Previous Semesters

This action is quite similar to the previous student project “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” which originated from the Spring 2014 semester's "Drop Box Implementation" action. The foundation of “Drop It Like It’s Hot” was for current IES students to leave their unwanted items behind for the incoming group of IES students, such as adapters, cellphones, school supplies, and guidebooks. Many of these items that students accumulate throughout the semester are only useful during a study abroad semester and therefore, a drop box will decrease consumption and minimize waste within the IES community.

Drop Box Implementation:
Drop It Like It's Hot:

By examining these similar projects from other groups, it has helped us to pinpoint weaknesses and analyze where we could improve upon the current model. We have utilized the idea of a drop box in the IES center, but are changing one of the fundamental concepts of these previous actions. Rather than create a system for current IES students to leave items behind for future IES students, we have turned it into a charitable outreach instead.

1.2. Why this or a similar action didn't succeed in previous semesters?

From our personal experiences, we have concluded that almost all IES students arrive for their study abroad experience already having purchased all the items they will need. There is not much demand for previous students’ belongings because students have the means and are much more likely to go out and purchase their own things. On the other hand, our project has a crucial difference that we believe will be the key to creating a successful action that will be easily passed on to future IES students. We have added an element of charitable sustainability. Rather than allow donated items to sit in a box unused, we can match these items with the people who need it most. We hope that this will also provide IES students with more initiative to donate, since they know it will be going to a good cause and will actually be used by people who need the items.

1.3. SWOT Analysis


  • Reusing of items that would have potentially been thrown away
  • Encouragement of students to be sustainable and help the community- Strong motivation
  • Requires little upkeep to continue in future years
  • Beneficial to the community in providing resources for the homeless shelter

  • Items donated may be of lesser quality due to student use
  • Getting the word out to all IES students, hard to reach everyone
  • Only real incentive being the satisfaction of helping out those less fortunate

  • Involvement of IES staff as well in donated unwanted items
  • Giving students a chance to give back to community and feel good about a contribution to the city that has hosted them for the past three and a half months
  • Potential future work and other projects to do with the Arrels Fundacio as the semester progress, potentially a trip their to learn about their work or volunteer opportunities; It would be out hope that a sustainability club or future sustainability class build upon this relationship with Arrels Fundacio

  • Lack of interest on the part of the students
  • Students more interested in opportunity to sell back/return/get money for their items than donate them
  • Items donated could be of too poor quality to donate to the homeless shelter

We can attempt to eliminate these weakness but talking with the Arrels Fundacio and clarifying the exact quality of donations that they accept and other specifications. We would then be sure to voice these details with the students via the sign above the box for donations and through our other forms of communication with students in informing them about the action. Also, getting the staff at IES on board and having them tell their classes about the opportunity to donate unwanted "baggage" would help in assuring that the majority of students are aware of the action and opportunity. As for the singular incentive we don't think this will be a major problem being that students are becoming more and more conscious of their social responsibility and are eager to give back to the community based on our survey. We did try to account for many of these weaknesses but lack of time due to the end of the semester nearing did not allow for full avoidance. As for the threats, these can be avoided by fully explaining to students the contribution they will be making in helping those less fortunate and to fully inform them on the details needed in what kind of donations we're looking for.


A survey was also done on 100 random IES students to determine if donating unwanted belonging was feasible and if it would be a success and receive positive action and response by students. Our results proved to support that students would be generally very interested in this option for their belongings they don't wish to bring back. Attached is a graph with out results.

1.4. Feedback Loops

Reinforcing Loop

Students motivated to donate their clothes and unwanted items at the end of the semester++++Donation of clothes to homesless shelter+++Homeless Shelter Access to resources to utilize--Waste--Students motivated to be sustainable+++Students motivated to donate their clothes and unwanted items at the end of the semester

When students hear that this is in option for their unwanted clothes they will be interested and enthusiastic to donate their clothes, creating a positive link between student motivation and donations; increased motivations equals increased donations to homeless shelter. In return another positive link is this increase in donations will be an increase in resources for the homeless shelter to use. Being that these items are being used by new people instead of thrown out by students we find there is a negative link here where and increase in use/resources for the homeless shelter results in a decrease in waste. A decrease in waste, being an objective of sustainability will then make this action attractive to future students in future sustainability classes as well as future semester students at IES who hear about it. In turn this brings the loop full circle with the last positive links of students being motivated to donate their items at the end of the semester due to the "good" they are doing for Barcelona.

1.5. Advertising

All members of the group verbally spread the word about throughout IES to fellow students on the opportunity to donate their clothes and unwanted items to charity instead of throwing them out. A flyer was also put up in the IES building to inform people about the kinds of things the homeless shelter was looking for and the different requirements needed for the donations.
Attached is the flyer for future use by students in coming semesters. Attached both as a picture and document form for others to edit and build upon as different conditions make change and be added upon.
We also posted in both the IES Barcelona- Fall 2014 as well as the IES Abroad Barcelona Events (Fall 2014) Facebook groups to inform students of the action being implemented and location of the box. The message read as following:

"Hello fellow students!
As the semester comes to an end and the dreaded packing up for home begins we know a lot of you are finding ourselves with clothes, bedding, and other items that we either no longer have use for or just no room to pack. As part of the sustainability class here we are implementing a donation Instead of wasting and throwing these items out drop them off in the box on the first floor located by the computers and we will be bringing all donations to the local homeless shelter. The box will be dropped off on Wednesday December 17th so if you have anything please drop it off by then. All requirements and regulations for acceptable donations are posted on the flyer in IES but if you have any additional questions feel free to message me. So everyone get rid of your unwanted extra "baggage" and contribute to the sustainability of this wonderful city that has hosted us so graciously for the past three and a half months! Thank you!"

2. Why Does This Action Make Things More Sustainable?

While many other action plans in the past have aimed to create a more sustainable environment at IES, often times such tasks are hard to maintain and thus remain inefficient. While our action plan may be similar to various ideas devised in previous semesters, we feel as though ours provides a higher probability of success in the long term because of its cradle to cradle design and eco-effectiveness. Instead of merely asking students to dump their unwanted items purchased abroad in a box, the added factor of donating to the Arrels Fundacio creates both incentive and effectiveness. When merely creating a box for future students, there proves a high possibility that such discarded items will either remain unwanted by others, or unacknowledged by those supposedly responsible for maintaining the box’s productivity. Therefore, it becomes likely that such undesirable items will simply end up in the trash anyways (probably by someone cleaning up after hours!). By automatically taking donated items to give to charity, we circumvent this potential flaw and directly ensure that there is a place willing and able to re-use that in which students are not. Considering we will only have been studying in Barcelona for one short semester, it’s very probable that most items placed in the box are still in good condition, however simply are unable to be taken back to their individual homes due to lack of space in bags, weight limits, inability to use European products in their country, etc. Since there is never a shortage in items needed to help the poor, there will always be a waste=food mentality because there will always be a necessity and use for whatever “waste” we have to donate. We are not simply reducing waste at IES by hoping most things previously donated will be garnered by future students, but eliminating waste by ensuring these things are taken to a place in which can re-use and utilize them. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, the incentive for students to donate their goods knowing these items will be going to a greater cause only further enhances the chances of the projects success. Everyone wins: students are ridden of their unwanted belongings, IES remains free of a semester long responsibility (considering box donations are only offered at the end of each semester), and those in need are gifted with the necessities and items they otherwise would be lacking.

2.1. Potential Costs

Considering our plan revolves more around giving items away as opposed to gathering them, the costs for this endeavor remains very low. If anything, time is more of a factor as far as requirements for our actions plan since, at some point, someone is going to need to take the time and energy to sift through and drop off the items. The only place in which funds were needed was for printing out flyers in order to advertise our box, as well as money for transportation to and from the shelter. The box in which we used was made out of recycled cardboard materials, so it’s both sustainable and cost efficient. Furthermore, IES provides each student with a card for printer usage at the beginning of each semester, so collecting money for printing out our flyers was not an issue. Similarly, the paper in which we used was recycled or already previously used, so it technically does not even cost IES anything. Lastly, even though it will ultimately cost money in order for someone to take either the metro or bus to drop off the donated goods at the shelter, this too is economically sound as many students already possess public transportation cards to use for the entirety of their semester abroad.

2.2. Time Commitment

As far as time requirements, the most time any student will have to spend implementing this plan revolves around the journey one must take to the shelter to drop off the items. While the other tasks such as finding a box, printing out flyers, and raising awareness are all somewhat simple feats, taking the metro to Arrels Fundacio from Placa de Catalunya takes about 17 minutes one way on 23 minutes on the bus. Accounting for the time it takes to walk to the shelter, drop off the items, and then return back to IES, in total one will probably need to devote just under an hour to fully complete the job.

3. Implementation

To start the process of our final project, we first had to contact a homeless shelter that would be willing to work with us in our endeavors. We sent an email to the shelter we selected, which we are still awaiting a response from. Since the email was taking longer than expected, we then went to the shelter to ask their advice and see if an arrangement could be made. After this was completed, we moved our attention to IES facilities and students. We collected recycled cardboard boxes from old packages and reassigned them to our project. We then labeled them with our cause and set them on each floor of IES facilities. Next we needed to advertise our cause. For this we decided to make a few flyers, just to put on a bulletin board on each floor. To further spread the news, we also decided to ask IES administration if they would send an email to the student body. At the end of the semester, we are hoping to ask a teacher or administrator that takes a liking to our cause to donate the goods.

3.1 Prototype

While not exactly the same, we drew much inspiration from the project "Drop It Like Its Hot" (previously sited). However, we then decided to add to this basic concept by partnering with the local homeless shelter.

3.2 Cradle to Cradle

This action will have some waste. However, we are doing everything to make this the most cradle to cradle project we can. First of all, there is the matter of the paper used in our flyers. We will be using recycled paper, as we only need one side of the paper to get our message across. We are planning to tell IES administration to put them in the recycling pile, to be used for further prints. The email flyer, if implemented, will not have any physical waste. The boxes used for collection are also recycled and can be further recycled after they have exceeded their usefulness to our project. Finally, the whole premise of our project is to reduce waste. The belongings that we are collecting would most likely be trashed, and with our project, their life will be extended. Instead of just going to a landfill, they will continue to be used to their real purpose. In our project, we are recycling (paper and boxes), reusing (clothing and other donated items) and reducing (by not having to buy more supplies and donated products). This makes our project incredibly relatable to the cradle to cradle concept.

3.3 Flyers

Yes we are planning to use flyers. However we are going to reuse paper that has only been printed on one side and make sure to recycle the paper again at the end of the semester. Further, we are hoping to be able to send an e-flyer so that we can reduce the amount of paper flyers necessary.

Image Donation Flyer

3.4 Incentives

Our main incentives to encourage people to donate are the fact that they are doing their part to help the less fortunate of Barcelona. This city has done so much for us, and it would be great to be able to give back. Further, this will allow students to be able to not have to pack belongings that are no longer of use to them.

3.5 Relationships with Other Initiatives

We gathered information from other projects such as http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Courses%3A_%3ADrop+Box+Implementation+Spring+2014+Sharrin%2C+Vine%2C+Breiner?structure=Courses%3A_%3A2014a+Spring%3A_%3AAction+Pages and the previously mentioned "drop it like its hot" project. There have also been several cell phone recycling projects, all of which would have relevance to our initiative of recycling student's unwanted items. However, no other project had incorporated the idea of giving back and donating to a homeless shelter.

3.6 How will this Initiative be Sustained?

After the four members of this project leave the country, we are hoping that it is still possible to maintain a relationship with the shelter and continue the project. We are hoping that a student in the sustainability class will read our project and continue it. Also, we could talk to an administrator at IES or our very own beloved teacher and see if they would maintain the project and relationship with the homeless shelter. While it is hard to make any guarantees as to the sustainability, we could do our best to find someone before we leave that will maintain the project.

3.7 Comparison to Previous Projects

This is similar to the project "Drop It Like Its Hot" in that we are working with the students to collect things that they do not want to take home with them. It acts as a donation center for the IES community. However, we decided to make a greater connection with the outside Barcelona community and instead of them being available to just students, we decided to take the donated items to a local homeless shelter. However, this original project definitely acted as the inspiration for our project.

4. Time-Sheet/Chronogram

Chart documenting the necessary requirements per student/month for one semesters worth of work to ensure the sustainability of action plan

Month Year Action Who Will Do It
January 1 Brainstorm ideas of how to best advertise box to new students ALL
February 1 Create flyer design to be posted around campus ALL
March (Part 1) 1 Print out flyers on recycled paper; distribute flyers among IES Student 1 + 2
March (Part 2) 1 Get in contact with shelter regarding donation drop off Student 4
April (part. 1) 1 Week before leaving, ensure you have an adequate box Student 3
April (part 2) 1 Place box on first floor of IES building Student 3
April (part 3) 1 Last day, gather items and metro to shelter for drop off Student 4

4.1 Who will do what

Kaye will coordinate with the IES administration regarding student outreach.
Alex will be this semester's student liaison between Arrels Fundació and IES.
Haley and Anne-Elizabeth will work together to set up the drop box and provide information as to what items should be donated.

4.2 What has to be done this semester?

Our group must continue to make students aware of the option to donate as the semester comes to a close. We must then bring these collected items to a shelter that can make use of them or hand them over to IES for safekeeping until an organization that would like these items is contacted.

4.3 What needs to be done to repeat the action in the future?

An instruction guide for the next semester of students should also be left behind so that our action can continue to be implemented in our absence. There must also be continued communication with Arrels Fundació or other organization regarding needed items.

5. Document Format

The only document that we required for our project was our flyer. For this we used a FLOSS system that would allow it to be freely edited next semester if the project was continued. Within Microsoft Word, we worked with an .odt format so that it could be recognized universally.

6. Bibliography

Our main source of information and inspiration was the project "Drop It Like Its Hot" which is linked here: http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Courses%3A_%3A2014+Fall%3A_%3ADrop+It+Like+It%27s+Hot+%28Travis+Croom+-+Zeyu+Wen+-+Will+Rathman+-+Johana+Guerra%29?structure=Courses%3A_%3A2014b+Fall%3A_%3AAction+Pages

7. Other References

-Link to Arrels Fundacio website with all the necessary contact information, maps and directions, guide to volunteering, as well as other basic information regarding the goals of the organization. The website also has an email response section already built into it’s design making getting in contact extremely simple (Click the tab “Get Involved” and it appears on the bottom right side of the page)

-Also see above link to previous action plan, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” for reference to primary inspiration for our newly designed action plan

8. Annexes

Image Donation Flyer

Attribution CC BY Share alike: This license is flexible in the sense that it allows other students to rework, tweak, renovate and build upon our original work as long as they credit us for any advancements they make. The other thing that must take place is that they must license their new creation under this copyright license, this in return will allow for commercial use.

We have chosen this license because we are hoping that another student will continue with this action and I want them to have access to my research, information, and ideas in order to build upon them and improve my work and potentially improve it and do more in particularly with the Arrels Fundacio and possible incorporate other actions along with this one.

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

Based on feedback from our professor we really had to rework our focus and make sure that this action wasn't just sustainable as in what we were doing was a sustainable action but also sustainable in the sense that it could be repeated and done again by future sustainability students/IES students. We ensured this by (planning on) leaving the box for donations with our professor at the end of the semester as well as including the file for the donation flyer and other than this there isn't too much up keep in making this action possible again in the future.

8.3. Acknowledgements

We'd like to acknowledge Zippy's, the store next to IES for providing us with the cardboard box used for donations. We'd also like to acknowledge Arrels Fundacio for providing us for an outlet to donate these items too and contributing to the sustainability of this action.

8.4. Students involved in this action

Kaye Weinstein coordinated with the IES administration regarding student outreach.
Alex Wilds was this semester's student liaison between Arrels Fundació and IES and retrieved the box and set up donation area.
Haley George and Anne-Elizabeth Rush worked on logistics and typing much of the action plan.

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