Courses / 2014b Fall / Sustainable Snapshot (Zhana - Nicole - Defne)

Snapshot of Sustainability by Zhana Welch, Nicole Carpenter, Defne Gun


The action our group decided to implement is an Instagram photo contest. Our intention was to work with the IES Instagram contest already in progress. In order to spread awareness of this contest, we planned to use social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter was well as posters. Judging is done using student voting on Facebook. We believe participation will be a good way to get people involved in sustainability awareness.

1. What Is the Action?

Our sustainable action seeks to remind students about environmental friendliness and sustainability by encouraging them to seek out sustainable organizations and actions that they can photograph and submit to a contest. The categories include most creative, most effective, and best-overall. Because it is an Instagram contest, we created an account (iesbcnsustainability) and promoted the tags #Eco-efficiency, #ShrinkingFootprint, #Loop=Closed, #Upcycle, #Cradle2Cradle, #Wisdom>Intelligence, #FairTrade. The prize is the title of Sustainable Snapshot Contest Winner and recognition, as well as whichever prize is associated with IES photo contests. The contest will be held on Facebook, with photo submissions coming from Instagram accounts. The judging will be done by the number of "likes" on each photo on Facebook.

1.1. Similar Actions From Previous Semesters

Looking at the actions implemented by previous semesters, there does not exist a proposal quite like ours. There were ideas creating surveys or clubs, but none suggesting any kind of contest. As far our class goes, our idea is relatively original.

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


1.3. SWOT Analysis


  • Encourages students to think about sustainability in Barcelona and possibly in the future as well
  • Easy to keep going in the future as long as the IES Facebook group continues running their photo contests


  • May not garner as much participation as other contest themes/categories
  • Getting participation for a photo contest may be difficult
  • Some students may not participate because they are unfamiliar with sustainable practices


  • Opportunity to collaborate with IES administration and those in charge of social media
  • Students can learn about sustainability and wise environmental practices through this contest
  • Free advertisement for anything featured in student photos


  • Lack of adequate incentives can lead to little to no interest
  • Can be discontinued if the platform ceases to exist or maintain followers

2. Why Does This Action Make Things More Sustainable?

One of the most important first steps in increasing the use and awareness of sustainable products and actions is to inform people in a way that encourages them to have both internal and external motivations. With our action we are hoping to cater to our audience, young college students, in a way that makes learning about sustainability and implementing actions that increase sustainability without it seeming like a burden, but instead a beneficial game. In this way we are changing their attitudes because usually sustainability is seen as some foreign concept that is purely academic. By creating a selfie-esque contest, we are using a popular social media platform and fad that is easy and well used by our audience. And by having prizes at incentives, the benefits are both material and immaterial, adding to the value in the eyes of the students. By having them provide hashtags such as #effective>efficient, we are encouraging them to explore sustainability concepts and ideas that would not normally be an interest to them and apply them to real life situations. Another way this action makes things more sustainable is that by having a contest people will start asking others what are sustainable options in the city. This give-and-take of information will become a cycle, increasing everyone’s knowledge and then by actively either participating, buying, or contributing to these sustainable aspects of Barcelona, they will attribute to the sustainability of these projects themselves. This creates a balancing loop between information and action that will increase the value with each person that participates. In the long term, I believe the students will be more informed about different ways that sustainability can be defined and implemented in a city and their ability to contribute. I also think that the stores or organizations that receive the attention of the students will benefit by becoming more well-known along with receiving any monetary value. All of these aspects combined represent, I believe, the potential for this seemingly simple action to have a major impact.

2.1. Potential Costs

• We do not believe that the prizes have to be extremely large to create incentive for students to participate. Maybe $5 per student per semester if that would be required. I believe that the IES Administration may even have the funds to buy the prizes because they would require such an insignificant amount of funding.
• We believe that very little time is needed. For the students, most will find themselves around a sustainable tienda or see a sustainable action being implemented during their stay here. If they do decide to research beforehand, the time would also be unsubstantial, maybe 30 minutes to research and then go and take the pictures. Because of the abundance of sustainable actions being implemented in Barcelona, I do not believe that this will be a long process for the students that participate.
• There will be no cost of time for external people, this is solely within IES except for any contact made when the student is involved with the event they hope to submit the photo of.
• The IES Abroad Staff would have to take maybe 10 minutes a week to write and send out updates on the competition, information about it, and monitoring of the Instagram account. The would also, when it comes closer to the end, send notices more frequently, and then ultimately pick winners at the end (costing another approximate 20min) and then give the students their prizes. This also would not be a time consuming task for them.

3. Implementation

Beginning the process, we first sat down to design the logistics of a photo contest. We decided that in order to keep it going after this semester it would make the most sense to have a partnership with the already existing IES photo contests on its Facebook page. We then reached out to those in charge of it, though we did not receive a response. It was our intention to try a dry run of the contest, but since we could not get in touch with those running it, we were unable to complete this step. We set up an Instagram account and put up numerous submission examples. The last step needed, linking our contest category with the IES page, requires administration communication that we are unable to do. At the end of the semester, we are hoping to ask have an administrator add our contest to the roster for the coming semesters.

3.1 Prototype

Our idea was an original design, and we used the IES Facebook photo contest and Zhana's university's study abroad Facebook page photo contests as inspiration.

3.2 Cradle to Cradle

As our design has no physical waste, it will not need to recycle anything. In terms of a cradle to cradle project, the photos themselves generate no more than minimal computer data in terms of waste, and can then be saved for IES use.

3.3 Flyers

In lieu of flyers, which can be wasteful, we intend to use social media for advertising- Facebook and Instagram.

3.4 Incentives

The main incentives of this contest are recognition and the title of contest winner. If IES Facebook's photo contest decides to offer prizes, it will apply to this contest as well.

3.5 Relationships with Other Initiatives

There no archived initiatives that suggest a photo contest.

3.6 How will this Initiative be Sustained?

This initiative's sustainability depends partly on the continuation of the IES Abroad Facebook account and their continuation of their photo contest. This way, the only way it will be discontinued is if the Facebook page is discontinued as well. In the case that this happens, the contest can be reinstated on whichever social media platform that has gained popularity at the time.

3.7 Comparison to Previous Projects

We noted that previous projects focused more on physical things, or projects that needed more follow up than is possible for a student only in the program for one semester. We believe that our project is more sustainable because it only requires an alliance with the IES social media administrators to be implemented and sustained for as long as the internet is widely used. Our proposal also does not generate any waste or involve any additional costs, assuming contest prizes do not exceed a winner's title.

4. Time-sheet / Chronogram


Ensure all Fall IES students are aware of the IES sustainability Instagram. This will be done mostly through advertising on Facebook and almost all students receive notifications from IES Barcelona Facebook, which they check every day. Find student to maintain the Instagram for the semester. Encourage students to post and add new pictures.

October - December

Promote Instagram context of Facebook weekly. Encourage students to upload their photos with hashtags. Coordinate with other sustainable actions, and use Instagram to promote those if applicable.


Ensure that new students are aware of Instagram. Encourage them to look through old posts and add their own. Present Password and Username to professor in the hopes of a new student taking over.


New students would start to post on Instagram and promote the contest. Coordinate with other sustainable actions.

March- August

Promote Instagram context of Facebook weekly. Encourage students to upload their photos with hashtags. Coordinate with other sustainable actions.

4.1 Who Will Do What

Defne - Created the IES Barcelona sustainability Instagram and uploaded a few sample Snapshots of Sustainability with examples of hashtags.

Nicole - Talked to IES Delaney (on of the social media students) about creating a sustainability category in the IES photo contest and creates examples of hashtags to be used.

Zhana - Organized information, as well as came up with hashtags and contest categories.

4.2 What Has Been Done This Semester?

An Instagram contest was designed to promote awareness of sustainability, and examples hashtags were brainstormed (#Eco-efficiency, #ShrinkingFootprint, #Loop=Closed, #Upcycle, #Cradle2Cradle, #Wisdom>Intelligence, #FairTrade) to be posted along with the pictures to promote concepts of sustainability.

4.3. What Needs to be Done to Repeat the Action in the Future?

Give username and password information to the professor so that the future IES students who take the Sustainability course will be able to continue to use the Instagram.
Include information regarding how to make others the authors so that they are able to contribute

5. Document Format

We produced an Instagram account to which all of the photos would be tagged. This will give all of them a central location that students can preview for ideas and that is easy for the administration to review to decide on the winners. This can be edited by the user of the account and students can add or delete their own contributions but because it is a contest we did not think it would be beneficial to let others have the ability to change the submissions of other students.

6. Bibliography

Yeomans, Matthew. "How to Tell Sustainability Stories on Social Media." The Guardian. N.p., 17 Feb. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fsustainable-business%2Fblog%2Fhow-to-tell-sustainability-stories-social-media>.

"How to Use Social Media to Communicate Sustainability." Environmental Leader RSS. Business Sector Media, LLC, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/02/19/how-to-use-social-media-to-communicate-sustainability/>.

The link to the Instagram that was created can be found below. Here, the sample pictures with examples of hashtags can be found:

Sample Instagram submission of a meal from a sustainable farmer's market produce
Sample Instagram submission of a meal from a sustainable farmer's market produce

We communicated with IES Delaney, who is one of the social media students at IES. The link to her Facebook profile can be found below:

8. Annexes

For our project, our platform that we used was Instagram. Under the specific API licensing laws we are only giving Instagram the ability to use our posts and photos, it is completely private to all others and protects not only the photos posted by the SustainabilitySnapshot account but all of the students’ accounts who participate as well.

8.2. What Did You Learn and What Did You Incorporate From the Feedback Received?

Our professor encouraged us to try to implement our action, if only in a small way. We actually designed and created our Instagram account, posted snapshots of us doing sustainable activities and are currently going to the procedures to have a test-run of the contest by paring up with the current IES Instagram contest, though this is still in the works. Our professor also believed an improvement to consider would be to have the hashtags be substantially important vocabulary from the semester. We believe that there needed to be a balance between vocabulary and fun words that would be more interesting/well-known by the students. We provided some examples of these hashtags in the Instagram account.

8.3. Acknowledgements

We wish to acknowledge Instagram for providing a platform on which to have our contest. We would also like to acknowledge the help of Delaney and the IES Administration that we have been in contact with in order to hopefully implement a test run of our new action before the end of the semester.

8.4. Students Involved in This Action

Defne Gun created the Instagram account and posted photos.
Nicole Carpenter worked on logistics, contacting the IES administration about having a possible test run as well as coming up with hashtags for the Instagram account.
Zhana Welch worked on the design of the Instagram contest as well as the organization and editing of the report.

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Page last modified on Sunday 14 of December, 2014 23:37:36