1. What is the action
This action implements a physical drop box in the IES building for the purpose of sustainable use and reuse of various items. The purpose of this drop box is to eliminate unnecessary waste and reduce the consumption of resources by IES students (both present and future). During a study abroad experience students acquire many items that are only useful in the abroad setting. With this drop box, we are hoping to avoid the disposal of these useful items upon each students departure. This drop box will be advertised on the IES bulletin boards and it will be located in the building where students can freely deposit relevant items at their convenience. At the end of the semester the collected items will be stored at IES until new students arrive, at which point these items will be available for their use.
Useful items for the drop box include: Books, city maps, metro maps, unused notebooks, pens, pencils, cell phones, computer adapters, cell phone chargers/adapters, etc.
1.1. Why this action makes things more sustainable
This action is improving the sustainablility of IES Abroad Barcelona for a few key reasons. First of all, the way in which this action is designed does not require the use of any new materials. We have adopted a waste=food approach for the drop box. We will use a cardboard box that would otherwise be thrown out to store the donated items. In addition, this action improves the eco-efficiency of IES. Due to the fact that the drop box cannot address the raw material use and manufacturing practices of the companies who produce the wanted objects, there is no way to increase eco-effectiveness. However, by reducing the amount of waste we can stop the material flow system and avoid the downcycling of these useful products. This action simultaneously reduces waste and reduces consumption, which inevitably increases the eco-efficiency. Also this action, if carried out completely, will act as a closed feedback loop. Usable items will be placed in the box and at the end of each semester items will be returned or donated. Ideally the number of items in the box will increase over time so more students can benefit from the drop box and even more waste can be avoided.
1.2. "Cradle to Cradle" Design
As mentioned previously, this action has all of the elements of a "cradle to cradle" design. We will use a cardboard box for the collection of donated items and these items, which might have ended up as waste, will be utilized by future IES students (Reuse). Since we will be offering future students with useful items we will cut down on both consumption of new items and waste of old items (Reduce). Also, as part of our action implementation the paper used for fliers will be recycled or reused, depending on the condition of the flyer, upon completion of the item collection (Recycle). In addition to these aspects, we must address the possibility of donated items becoming outdated or useless. The paper products such as books and maps must be correctly recycled in a recycling bin. However, many of these donated items will be electronics such as cell phones, computer chargers, adapters, etc. These items cannot simply be thrown away in any garbage can. Once electronic items become useless they must be disposed of in the correct manner according to the eCycling document below. In addition, there is a second link provided that explains the Barcelona trash and recycling disposal system. This link can be used to decide which type of trash bin is appropriate for different types of materials.
1.3. Similar actions from previous semesters
Looking back to previous semesters we found a couple similar actions to this drop box action. These actions were Electronics Recycling Program/Electronics Buy Back Program and Recycling Used Electronics. These designed actions have a very similar idea however the main difference is that they only have one focus. These actions focus solely on the recycling of electronic devices and adapters, but they do not incorporate the recycling of other useful items such as books, maps, school supplies, etc. It does not require more space to gather these additional items and they can be very useful to future IES students. Our action basically takes the same idea as the electronic recycling actions and adds other items that can be recycled.
1.3.1. Why this or a similar action didn't succeed in previous semesters
The common problem with all of these actions is that the students who begin the implementation in one semester are not present to finish the other half of the action during the next semester. The only way to correctly eliminate this problem would be to find a professor or other IES staff member who would be willing to initiate the second phase of the action. The only thing this person would need to do would be to put up fliers to inform new IES students of the items available for their use. This way the new students would be able to take advantage of the donated items and hopefully donate more items at the end of their own semester.
2.1. The Action
The implementation phase of the action will take at least a semester. The first step in implementation is awareness. We believe that in order to have a successful drop-box that is actually used in IES-- flyers and other posters need to be put up so that students, faculty and staff alike can help improve the eco-efficiency of IES. Aside from just the advertising factor, IES needs to become aware of what goes in the drop-box. It will not be used as a trash can or for compost, but rather for goods that we purchase specifically for Europe-- that we will not need when we return home to the States. For example, lets say a student buys a European charger and at the end of the semester, plans to just throw it away in the trash. Well, that is a waste of time, energy, and resources. Now, IES students can pull from our implemented action and waste no time, money, or energy!
The previous semesters designed drop box action was far too specific for IES students to take part in. They wanted students, faculty, and staff to make sure that every electronic, adapter, etc. was in working condition and to make sure all information necessary was on the device put in the drop box. Realistically, this is not a good way of going about implementing this action because you can not have 24/7 drop box surveillance on the IES first floor. As a solution, you can advertise "Please only put working devices in the drop-box," students, faculty, and staff are old enough to know and respect what we are trying to do for our community. Another previously implemented action that has an easy solution is the price. Previously, the drop-box was meant to be a bin that was purchased. However, since we are trying to be sustainable and eco-efficient-- instead of going out and purchasing a bin, we thought that we would use a recyclable cardboard box and freshen it up a bit, and that it would work just as well as a bin you can buy at a store for money.
2.3. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?
The question of how this plan of action will be sustained after our tenure in Barcelona is over is a simple question. We will enlist the help of a member of the IES staff to look over the drop box and make sure that everything is running smoothly. The action is self sustainable and that’s is the best part of this implementation. As long as a member of the staff lets the incoming students know what the purpose and function of the drop box is than students will be able to take and bring back what they need. At the end of the semester students should have plenty of “European only” waste that the drop box will be restocked and replenished in anticipation of the new students.
"A Container for Each Thing | Management of Waste | Cleaning and Management of Waste | Environmental Vectors | Environment | Barcelona City Council." A Container for Each Thing | Management of Waste | Cleaning and Management of Waste | Environmental Vectors | Environment | Barcelona City Council. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
"ECycling, Common Wastes & Materials." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
4. Other Refrences
How to make a recycling bin
"How to Make a Recycling Bin out of Soda Boxes (and Particle Board)." Instructables.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Should be cost free to build the drop box by using materials that are going to thrown away regardless.
Incorrect parameter fileId
We would like to acknowledge those teams from previous years that have already developed some of the ideas and highlighted the strengths & weaknesses of those ideas. The groups mentioned above under heading 1.3 have compiled information that helped us to fully formulate our action.
5.2. Students involved in this action
Alex Sharrin, Matt Vine, Ben Breiner
There wasn't a point during the process where we assigned a "leader" of the group. We met together and compiled ideas/suggestions in order to make the best possible action.