Courses / CORRECT Sustainable Living (Sebastian, Stephen, Peter)

Executive Summary

We have put together a website with tips and guidance on living sustainably and ecologically in Barcelona. Utilizing this information and the reusable water bottle,bag, and recycled notebook that students will receive at the beginning of the semester, members of the IES community will be able to reduce their eco-footprint while in Barcelona and learn how to live sustainably in the long term.

What is the Action

Our main goals are to promote an active and ongoing sustainable culture within the IES community. We want to stress the importance of leading a sustainable lifestyle while abroad. To encourage sustainable living we are hoping to raise tuition by less than 4$ per student in order to provide students with a reusable water bottle and bag. These limit our waste and depletion of natural resource while abroad. We will also hold a notebook collection at the end of this semester so that students can recycle and reuse these in future semesters. Finally, we have created an open forum website where students and faculty have the ability to read up on sustainability related topics as well as provide feedback and suggestions. The website provides the IES community with valuable information on sustainable and second-hand shopping all over Barcelona.

1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters

The “Fall 2012 Welcome Kit” was a formerly implemented action that strived to motivate IES students to live a more sustainable lifestyle while studying in Barcelona – a similar objective for our group, with similar incentive. We were able to learn from this group’s action, and weigh out different options for the way we wanted to structure our action this semester. There were certainly aspects of the previous semester’s action that were overly complex (the complexity/price of their welcome kit, for ex.) and that we aimed to learn from and build on.

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

I believe that the former semester’s action did not succeed for a number of reasons, but the key reason being that the funding of money was not there on behalf of IES. I believe that they did not keep their idea simple enough, and complicated it to the point of no return. It could have also been that there was just not enough time for this action to be successfully implemented, which is again something that we based our idea off – an action that would work successfully within a tangible amount of time. We hope to not fail in the same categories as the previous semester.

1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • Fairly cheap cost (assuming we get our materials from local markets and not corporations such as Corte Ingles)
  • Would not cost IES a large sum of money
  • Works within a small table of time, high potential for implementation
  • Promotes/raises awareness about sustainability within the program and within the minds of American college students looking to travel abroad in the future


  • Some students might not be fully interested in/committed to our action
  • Might be difficult to have an interested student stay interested throughout a 4-month semester
  • Mass purchase of these kits for IES is ultimately an expense if the action is not entirely successful
  • Raises tuition costs for IES

  • Making students become more aware about sustainability and answer any questions they might have regarding the topic
  • Provides students with a sense of direction upon their arrival in Barcelona
  • a handbook for saving money and being ecologically aware.

  • If action does not work in it’s entirety, we could end up wasting a good deal of money
  • Raises the cost of the program minimally – could make students/parents think twice about sending their child to IES
  • Lost or stolen bags/water bottles
  • One of the key weaknesses is the notion that IES students might not be interested in sustainability or their interest would diminish over time. Though we can not get rid of that weakness in its entirety, we can redesign the action to primarily focus on not only raising the students’ interest in sustainability, but keeping that interest at a high rate. We are not able to avoid this problem entirely, but can work hard to diminish it. Another weakness, cost, could potentially be redesigned to get a cheaper cost model for the action.
  • If one of the threats, again, cost, is threatening IES’ ability to advertise their program to students, we can potentially focus tremendously on why this action is necessary and the promising results we hope to see. Raising awareness about sustainability is incredibly important, and if we are able to make that clear – then cost will become less of an issue.

1.3. Feedback loops

Reinforcing loop is created:

  • More students apply to IES (rates are always increasing)
  • Students utilize the welcome kit and begin cultivating their own interest in sustainability
  • They talk to their friends in IES about wanting to live more sustainable lifestyles while in Barcelona to save the environment/their money
  • People in other programs see the IES students with their cool new bags and water bottles, begin asking questions about their sustainable lifestyles
  • Those people go home and discuss with their friends the implementation of this welcome kit in a fellow program in Barcelona
  • Interest in both sustainability and IES is created

1.4. Advertising

  • We will be doing all of our advertising through our website, which explains our action in its entirety, and answers any questions people may have about the utilization of this sustainable lifestyle in Barcelona. Others will know about this website through sharing on facebook, twitter, and instagram, as well as through the IES website itself.

2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

IES Abroad, like most organizations, offers vary little information to their customers (In this case, students) about how they can act more sustainably and reduce their ecological and carbon footprint while they are here in Barcelona. Certainly, it is useful to create recycling programs and other initiatives that can be used within IES, but the easiest way to lead IES and its students to a more sustainable lifestyle is the sharing of information. Our project educates students, using available information gathered through research and our Sustainability course, on how they can behave more sustainably doing everyday things, like shopping for clothes or buying food. By supplying this information through a student-friendly interface, we can educate the students and help change their lifestyle habits in the short and long term. Education through the use of our supplied information can lead to much greater changes than if we had chosen to offer a sustainable service that students could only benefit from while in Barcelona, for example like providing a recycled shoe drive that students could only take part in while they are here this semester. Instead, our educational service leads to long run changes in attitude with positive feedback loops among friends. Friends who act sustainably encourage their peers to do the same. At the same time as this action plan educates students, it should also actively decrease their wasteful consumption and dependency on our current unsustainable global production. By providing students with an array of information on second-hand and vintage shopping, they will have access to a variety of second-hand stores, selling anything from hand-picked fashionable clothing to retro sunglasses. By taking advantage of our supplied information and guidelines, IES Students should be able to reduce their carbon footprint now, change their habits to be sustainable, and most likely continue their ecologically friendly behavior in the future. They will reduce their dependency on our production system by purchasing previously used items, and support LOIS instead of TINA by spending in local thrift stores and shopping at eco-friendly grocery stores and markets.

2.1. Potential Costs

The main action of our design is the availability of ecological and sustainable information relevant to life in Barcelona that will be supplied through a website we are making. Wix.com is the company that allows us to make a website, and they do so free of charge. Therefore, this main part of the action comes with no costs to students or IES.

There are three other parts of our action design. The most expensive of the three are water bottles made by IES and provided to the students. Charging students to buy a water bottle would surely result in only a small number of students purchasing them and therefore the majority of students would continue the habit of purchasing temporary plastic water bottles. It would be very important that these metal water bottles be supplied by IES if students are to be encouraged to change old habits.

Bulletin Bottle is a company that can produce metal water bottles with logos in bulk. For an order of 1000, they charge $2.45 for each bottle. This is a total of $2450 that IES would have to provide. However, the price per student is only the price of a single water bottle. IES should have no problem providing a two dollar water bottle to each of their students.

Another company, Orient New, can provide simple cotton bags for less than a dollar each. These bags could be reused countless times for any kind of shopping. Unlike plastic bags, they can simple be washed once they get dirty.

We have chosen to purchase our bags and bottles from companies, rather than local markets, because we are buying in bulk. This means that we are saving enormous amounts of time and probably money. If we chose to buy water bottles from second-hand stores and markets, it would probably take Stephen, Peter and I weeks to gather a thousand water bottles and bags from second-hand markets. Of course, this would also give our project less credibility in the eyes of the students; they would be receiving water bottles and bags of all different sizes, colors, and ages. Providing students with a uniform and legitimate product would cause them to take IES and its sustainability efforts more seriously.

Of course, water bottles and tote bags are very cheap themselves, and if IES decides they absolutely cannot provide these, than they would not be supplied to students upon arrival to IES. Instead, students would be encouraged to purchase their own bottles and shopping bags at markets and second-hand stores. Re-used notebooks, from previous semester recycling, are also free of costs.

These actions take no time commitment for students. They receive their bag with water bottle and notebook upon their first arrival to the IES headquarters. The shopping they do at thrift and other second-hand stores and markets encouraged by our website only takes up the same amount of time they would have spent shopping somewhere else. Of course, IES would have to spend a couple minutes looking into the order of water bottles and bags. Once these materials arrived, a few more minutes would be spent distributing the materials. Collecting used notebooks at the end of this (or any) semester would not take time by staff because notebooks could be dropped off into a cardboard box. Overall, no extra time is spent by students, and only minimal time is required by IES.

3. How will you implement it

Our main action involves the use of the student-made IES website that supplies students with sustainable information that is relevant to a student’s lifestyle. Our website is already up and information is actively being added to it. Students will receive a link to the website through an email sent by IES to all students at the beginning of the semester. Contacting an IES representative will be necessary as our project advances to make sure the website link will be included in one of IES’ email newsletters.

Other parts of the Action Plan include the water bottle, shopping bag and reused notebook. With permission from IES, the water bottle and shopping bag orders can be made before the end of the semester with specific requests to be delivered at the beginning of next semester. This means that no work would be necessary from IES staff since we could make orders ourselves. Finally, we would need to collect used notebooks at the end of the semester(s). A large cardboard box, taken from either students’ trash or the trash produced at IES, can be decorated as a recycling bin and placed on the first floor lounge of IES. Students would be encouraged at the end of their semester to reuse their notebooks by placing them in this cardboard bin, instead of throwing them out.

Luckily, no advertisement is necessary for our action, so paper, materials, and time can be spared in this regard. As long as the water bottle and bag can be supplied to students upon their arrival, that is all that would be necessary. At the beginning of the semester, the bottles and bags would have already arrived to the IES headquarters. Therefore, it would only be necessary to make sure an IES staff member placed a bag and water bottle in each student’s information tray. The link to the website that is already being made would simply be provided to students through an IES email to all students.

3.1. Prototype (or Proof of Concept)

Our prototype would include a tote bag with a water bottle and a used notebook inside. These are the three materials that would go into it. The cotton bag and water bottle need to be ordered, and the used notebook would come from recycling of the last semester. The best prototype we can provide now is our website in the making.

Here is the link.

The website features a simple template with eye catching themes and images. It has several tabs that students can use to explore different options for sustainable living. Some of these include a tab with information on grocery shopping sustainably and locally with markets, and another tab offers information for second-hand shopping and swapping. Luckily, the website we use is free and available to everyone.

Like was mentioned earlier, the water bottle and cotton bag would be ordered from the two companies specified in section 2.1. Although there are surely some water bottles and cotton bags available at the Encants Market, for example, it is much more practical to save enormous amounts of time by ordering them, as well as providing the legitimacy of using a single, uniform product that has the IES logo.

3.2. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Our new action plan incorporates aspects of the “cradle to cradle” design theory and eliminates waste wherever it is viable. It encourages reusing second-hand goods, which embraces the food= waste design idea. Goods such as clothing or sunglasses, which were produced unsustainably in the global production process, become “food” instead of waste when they are re-sold in local shops instead of thrown out like trash. This second level of retail also boosts the local economy because local businesses sell these second-hand items with little to no cost to them or the environment.

3.2.1 Reduce. Reuse, Recycle

The overall efforts of this action plan fully endorse the process of reductionism. We hope that by providing students with information on how to live more sustainably and ecologically in Barcelona, they will change their attitudes and habits of consumption. Buying second-hand products in small businesses and purchasing local produce at grocery markets not only means that consumption as we know it is being critically reduced, but more money is being injected into the local economy as well. All of the second-hand businesses and open markets we have researched are private businesses or entities of Barcelona, and are not profiting global corporations. Shopping for clothing and other fashion items in second-hand stores should greatly reduce and in theory eliminate the consumption of company-made, new clothing that increases world demand for clothing goods.

The cotton shopping bags that we would provide for students would eliminate the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags. We would greatly reduce the amount of plastic bags used by students by supplying them with a sturdy cotton bag that is not only biodegradable and washable, but can be used for all the purposes we use plastic bags, and more.

Supplying students with a durable, metal water bottle should greatly reduce their consumption of non-reusable, waste-creating plastic bottles. The metal bottle provides them with a durable alternative to the plastic alternative. They also don’t suffer from the health risks associated with plastic bottles. Reusing these IES-provided bottles would result in a decline in amount of plastic bottles consumed by students.

At the end of every semester, many students are left with notebooks that have been only partially filled with notes. Many students throw out notebooks at the end of the semester that still have many new, unused pages in them. By providing a recycle bin for used notebooks at the end of the semester, students have the opportunity to give their notebook a second life, as well as save money for other students in the future. Students can use these notebooks during the next semester. This action not only recycles old notebooks, but also greatly reduces the consumption of new notebooks by incoming students.

3.2.2 Redesign

This action plan is a conscious effort to redesign the consumption patterns of students while they study abroad in Barcelona. If these efforts are successful in encouraging students to lead a more ecological lifestyle, than it is likely that their consumption habits and attitude toward sustainability have changed for the long run.

The action plan does involve the consumption of one water bottle and one cotton bag per student, produced by large companies for our requested order. This part of our action is not sustainable but we believe that it is outweighed by the greater amount of positive ecological changes it will encourage students to make.

3.3. Flyers

Our primary method of our advertisement will be done virtually through website and email. We decided to use technological advertisement rather than using a traditional flyer that will most likely have a short life cycle. Our main source of advertisement will be through the website we created. The website will enable us to alert students about sustainable ways of approaching there time in Barcelona. The website will be the staple of our advertising campaign. To alert students of the website and used notebook collection we will send out an email to the entire student body. An email should be sent once at the beginning of the semester along with additional emails when things are added to the website. So students are continually reminded of our website we will have the website engraved on the bottles and printed on the reusable bags.

3.4. Incentives

Our goal will be to incentives students to actively use and contribute to the website. In order to do this we will provide the students with a ‘free’ water bottle and reusable bag (by raising tuition slightly). Hopefully the water bottle and reusable bag with the advertisement on each will be a reminder and an incentive to use the website. Students will also be incentivized to live sustainable because of the bottle and bag. These two products will decrease the student’s incentive to purchase these two items throughout their stay. This is also the case with used notebook collection. Students will not need to purchase notebooks or at least as many notebooks. This will with waste precious resources like water and paper.

3.5. Relationship with the other initiatives being implemented

Our action design has a unique relationship to the action I was apart of implementing at the beginning half of the semester. In that, we implemented a cell phone donation program. This is similar because we could advertise for this program on the website we have created. This idea is very similar in many aspects to our notebook collection at the end of the semester. In fact these two programs/ collections could be run simultaneously and have the same collection time/place. Our action design is also similar to the “Swag Swap” that our classmates implemented. They successfully held a clothing swap. Clothing swaps and service swaps like this are one of the key things we are advocating/ advertising for on our website. Our action design is unique because it is all based on advertising and advocating for sustainable ideas. Thus the website we have created can be used to advertise for any sustainable programs students want to discuss or implement.

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

In order for our action to be sustained long term would need to make sure both IES and future students are on-board. IES would be given administrative rights to our website so they can adjust the website as they see fit. Also students will largely be responsible for the survival of the website. Students who choose to implement this action will need to update the website for the events surrounding their time abroad. Beyond updating the website, students and IES will need to make sure other students are notified about the programs going on like our notebook collection. They need to stay on top of send out email notifications to the entire program.

3.7. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

Students in fall 2012 had a similar action design. Our action design is essentially improving and building off the strong foundation they created. These students wanted to have a welcome kit that included a water bottle, re-usable bag, and a packet of sustainable initiatives. Our main difference is that we plan to increase the sustainability of this design by creating a website. That way we are practicing what we are preaching. Instead of wasting paper and costing the students more money we are suggesting that the website be the method of advertisement. We also have decided to add little improvements. On the bottle and bag we would like to put the website name to make sure students are absolutely aware of this project. We also have added the idea of a notebook collection that the other group did not have. At the end of the semester the students more than likely have left of notebooks or note completely used notebooks. This is the perfect opportunity to add a small little sustainable activity.

4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

4.1 Table

Month Year Action Who Will Do What
January1Initial EmailIES will need to send out an original email telling students about the website and looking for student volunteers for the upcoming semester.
Febuary1Student Implementation Students will need to implement our action design. In order to do this they need to update the website as they see fit.
March1MaintainStudents will need to make sure the website is continually update, as well as continuously encouraging student input.
April1AdvertiseStudents will need to send out an email at this point announcing that there will be a notebook collection at the end of the semester.
May 1Notebook Collection Students need to conduct the notebook collection and turn them over to IES for future use
June1StorageStorage IES needs to collect and hold on to the notebooks. Store them for the upcoming semester. They can also update the website as they see fit.

4.2. What has been done this semester?

What has been done:

  • Website created
  • Research conducted on sustainable activities
  • Communication with IES on possibility of this action design
  • Updated website
  • Advertising by word of mouth and website debut

What needs to be done:

  • Gain approval to increase tuition slightly
  • Order water bottles and reusable bag

5. Document format

Microsoft Office

WIX…website design

6. Bibliography

  1. Vintage Barcelona Blog


  1. Second Hand Shopping Blog


  1. Website Creator


  1. Flea Market facebook Page


  1. Water Bottle Producer


  1. Cotton Bag Producer


7. Other References

8. Annexes

Creative Commons License: Attribution 4.0 International. We would like our work to be shared and adapted as much as wanted. This is the best ay to ensure that sustainability knowledge can be easily, and most rapidly, spread.

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

Feedback from students and professor have been constructively critical. They pointed out some mistakes in our article we may not have noticed otherwise, and provided knowledge in the field that we were unaware of. We have applied changes derived from their feedback in sections 1, 2 and 8.

8.3 Acknowledgements

8.4. Students involved in this action

Sebastian: Leader of the team. All partners collaborated in the brainstorming of our project. Stephen and I created the website and I added additional sustainability information to the website pages. I completed parts 2, 2.1, 3, 3.1, 3.2 and bibliography. I edited/formatted the paper and made sure every section was completed.

Stephen: I completed sections 3.3 - 5. I collaborated on the original brainstorming. I helped in the creating of the website. I also wrote the executive summary.

Page last modified on Sunday 01 of December, 2013 23:12:24