Work-in-progress Prototype. See this:
0. Summary and Keywords:
Our project revolves around the creation of an open source inventory-based recycling program within IES. Students will be able to recycle various products in exchange for a discount on IES t-shirts, and future IES students will be able to puchase these products for a cheaper price than their market value to keep the program running. The inventory of recycled products will be organized and run through an open source website that we built up from an earlier inventory project in previous years.
Keywords: Recycling, open-source, inventory, website, t-shirts
1. What is the action:
The action of our project is to create an inventory website as a way to recycle various types of electronic products. The website will operate for the students of the IES Abroad Barcelona program. It will allow students to leave behind electronics that would otherwise go to waste and can instead be recycled and purchased by students of future semesters at a reduced price. The recycled products posted on the site will include those most commonly used by study abroad students such as iPhone and Android USB wires, European converters and adapters, and straightening and curling irons.
By observing people in our program and because we are abroad students ourselves, we’ve come to see that the first thing many people do when they arrive to Barcelona is purchase brand new electronics that are appropriate for the European outlet and its electric voltage. More often than not, many people decide to throw out these electronic products once the semester ends thus letting the appliances go to waste. Though the duration of our program is fairly short, we hope to extend the lifetime usage of a student’s study abroad electronic products beyond just four months. Rather than letting these products go to waste, we’ve created a website where students are encouraged to post the products they would like to sell. In order to post an item, IES students will need to create an account on our website. Once they’ve done so, they will be able to submit an item, including an image, a description of the quality, and the original price of purchase. The system will then automatically calculate a selling price according to the quality of the product and its original price, and create a post for that item.
1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters:
In previous semesters, students have attempted to implement multiple similar programs. These actions aim to recycle used items at the end of the program and redistribute them to new students. The recycled items varies, some recycles only phones and chargers while others recycle items including books and maps. They differ in the incentive: “Drop Box” and “IES Electronics Recycle and Reuse Program” are designed as a donation based recycling. “Buying and Selling Used Barcelona Necessities” is most similar to our action in that the program gives an incentive for students to recycle items; IES would pay the students a certain percentage of the original price of the item.
Drop Box Implementation
Provides a physical drop box for students to recycle not only electronic goods
IES Electronics Recycle and Reuse Program
Provides a dispose bin for students to recycle electronics and is advertised with posters
Buying and Selling Used Barcelona Necessities
A program that pays student sellers a predetermined amount of money for necessities such as hair dryers, chargers, books and beddings.
Cell Phone Recycle Program
A program that only recycles used cellphones and adaptors
1.2. Why this or a similar action didn't succeed in previous semesters:
Similar actions from previous semesters failed for various reasons. One reason was that students were not given an incentive to recycle their used electronic products. Students are very busy completing assignments, studying for exams, and enjoying their remaining time in Barcelona during the last few weeks of the semester. In reality, not many people would go out of their way to bring their used electronics into school without being given something in return. Instead, they would choose to either throw them away or take them back to the United States to potentially never be used again. A second reason why similar actions failed in the past was the lack of proactive marketing. An action such as ours requires that a marketing system be established and put in place well in advance in order to generate awareness. Students in the past weren’t informed about the opportunity to recycle their electronics and so it became much more difficult to collect an inventory sufficient enough to redistribute to the subsequent groups of IES students. A third reason is that there was a lack of effective communication among the project coordinators and IES staff members. Groups of previous semesters failed to secure an IES employee that would manage the project after the coordinators left their abroad programs at the end of the semester.
1.3 SWOT Analysis:
The SWOT Analysis for this project discusses what the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of this project are. Strength and opportunities may be the same, and so may some of the weaknesses and threats.
|Form of having people be able to submit their product online to be known||Consumers cannot physically hold the objects, only view descriptions|
|Being more sustainable by reusing and recycling electronic products||Descriptions of items are short and not as detailed as what consumers would receive when purchasing items|
|Saving landfills and trash by being able to access products||May lead to other companies/corporations losing customers or going out of business|
|Saving monetary costs on products||No clear solution to where products will go if they are not selected|
|Able to view products and their descriptions for free||No clear way to select or consume goods|
|Open-source software exists to allow many people can add products||Crashing or failure of product via OSS|
|Description of condition that may not be listed on other websites that consumers use for purchasing objects in different conditions||Ability to access knowledge of product can be tough|
|Long-lasting mobile technology that is always there||Contributing to small, local businesses losing profit|
|Engage in Open-source software with many other consumers||Larger businesses losing profit and revenue|
|Collaborate with other people, consumers, and make connections with them||Reliance on internet access to search for products|
|Save money on products that consumers would buy in stores||Reliability of online site to be constantly present and working|
|Obtain used products that achieve the same functions as products that are more expensive Helping to decrease waste and increase sustainability||Possibility of lack of products posted|
|Less expenses on employee salaries||Difficulty posting products and use of technology|
|Likelihood to positively affect environment||Not very wide range of people posting products|
|Save time on consuming out of current location/mobile site||Leads to unemployment and fewer surviving companies|
1.4 Feedback Loops:
The feedback loops for the project that we have created are quite complicated. Feedback loops are a very important concept when it comes to sustainability, because there are always many causes and effects that affect every model of sustainability. When aspects of a community or of a system are changed in order to attempt to make them more sustainable, there are a series of changes that are made to that specific system. In this case, our group is attempting to help consumers consume more sustainably. We are using a website in which past IES Abroad Barcelona students have posted items that people have that are new, used, and old. In the past, students have posted electronic items, bikes, and other household items. This semester, our group created a 2016 Inventory for electronic products. In this inventory, we created categories for hair irons, chargers for iPhones, Android phones, adapters, and other electronics that students may have. The goal is to get students to consume more sustainably bu posting their electronic items online with a short description about the product, its quality, and the price they originally bought it for. After students post their items online in the inventory, other students can search through the products and select the products that they need and/or want. This creates incentive for the students to consume more sustainably, because the students who post their products do not need or want them anymore, so they post them online for future students to receive for no cost.
This feedback loop starts with the concept of electronic products and drops down to human consumption, followed by waste and pollution. As you can see in below, there are two positive feedback loops (loop A and loop B ) that exist when this project is put into place. For the most part, consumers are benefiting because they are receiving products for free and then posting them on a website that uses open source software. This allows the general public (who has access to the site) to consume products of any quality. The main negative feedback loops could consist of unemployment being created and less jobs being available to companies or businesses who are using trade as a main element. Companies such as Ebay and Amazon are really just companies in which people can consume by trading money for goods that are new and used, no matter how old they are. If more and more people are engaging in Open-source software, then people could tend to stray away from consuming on sites such as Ebay or Amazon, and they couls lose business and monetary profit.
When consumers select the electronic products, they are changing the amount of waste and pollution. With reusing and recycling these goods, there is less waste that is being created, and consumers are being more sustainable. This creates a better and more clean environment, which positively reinforces human, company, and world satisfaction, happines, and usually wellness. This in turn positively reinforces sustainable practices such as reusing and recycling goods, even if they are not just electronics and even if they are not just consumed through this website. See Figure 1: Feedback Loops below.
We will advertise the recycling program through social media and flyers in the IES buildings. We will be offering a discount on IES Barcelona T-shirts for sale at the end of the semester in exchange for recycling an item. In doing so, we will be partnering with IES and advertising our own project throughout the entire IES community by utilizing the IES emails about the shirt sale. Our advertising will provide a brief description of the project’s “cradle-to-cradle” goals and inspiration, to hopefully educate more IES students about the sustainable recycling process our program will be establishing.
2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?:
This action prolongs the lifetime of these recycling items, lowering an IES student’s carbon footprint in Barcelona. Normally, without a system to recycle these necessities, these products in fine condition are disposed as a student no longer needs them after the program. As a new group of students arrive in the following term, the cycle repeats: purchasing brand new items and disposing them after a short duration of four months. This cycle is avoidable simply with a platform for students to sell and rebuy certain commonly needed items. This action is sustainable in that it lowers move-in shopping expenses for students and in the meantime lowers IES students’ carbon footprint on the planet.
2.1 Potential Costs:
Printing the IES t-shirts to promote our program will cost a considerable amount of money, which we will hope to afford through the shirt sales themselves and the profits we will make from the discounted sale of the recycled products to future students. There will also be smaller costs, such as the price of keeping the products in inventory, the price of paying IES staff to put the products into the inventory and taking it out each semester. We are hoping that these costs will be negligible, and hopefully coverable by the t-shirt and product sale income as well.
3. How will you implement it:
We will implement our program through several steps.
1. We have built off the open source website of a previous IES group to create an inventory prototype for our project. Students will use this website to browse products in the inventory for purchase, as well as submit items of their own for recycled use in future semesters by future IES students. More about the inventory website can be found below (3.1).
2. The physical inventory itself will be managed by IES staff members, who will distribute the products to paying students as well as take their registered products for donation. The inventory will be kept somewhere in the IES building storage, where students will know to find it and purchase or submit products.
3. We will inform the IES student body and recruit them to help our program through advertisements and the discount on an IES t-shirt. Advertisements will include both flyers and emails, and will hopefully not only draw student participation in the recycling program, but also educate them on sustainable design and “cradle-to-cradle” recycling and programming (3.2-3.4).
3.1 Prototype (or Proof of Concept):
We made two functional prototypes for this concept.
1. Website of Inventory: Students interested in participating and recycling their products will have to make an account at iesgogreen.seeds4c.org. Upon making an account, they will have access to the inventory page of current products in inventory available for future purchase as well as a form to submit of products to be recycled.
The form to submit inventory has 6 field: Product Title*, Description, Type of Item* (drop-down), Picture, Quality* (drop-down), and Original Price (fields marked with * are mandatory). After a form is submitted, the item will be assigned an automatically generated item number. The person recycling their product is to take note of their Item Number to tell the IES staff in charge of stocking the inventory items so that the proper item numbers can be associated with the correct products.
The overall database of items in inventory displays 6 fields of information: the Item Number, Product Title, Description, Picture, Quality, and time the item was Last Modified. When a future student is interested in renting out or purchasing the recycled product, they are to look for the desired item on the list and take note of the associated item number. Then, they are to inform the IES staff responsible for distributing recycled products of the item number to receive the right item.
2. Protoype of t-shirt design to be available for purchase to all students of IES. Those who participate in recycling products will receive a voucher for $5 for the T-Shirts
3.2 “Cradle to Cradle” design:
This system most likely will not not include products that were designed as “cradle to cradle” but the concept behind this system is almost completely “cradle to cradle.” The website is open-source, this means that we created the current inventory form based off of a previous model made from past students and this also means that future students are able to, with administrative abilities, update the form and make it into their own.
The only aspect of this project that is not 100% “cradle-to-cradle” is the T-shirts. It has the potential of being sustainable if students who wear the shirt donate it to a homeless shelter or hand-me-down it to a younger sibling or friend once they no longer want the shirt instead of simply throwing it out.
We will be creating flyers to hang up around the two IES buildings advertising our program and the discount that they can earn by participating and donating products for recycling. The flyer itself will include a list of items that will be acceptable for donation, as well as the t-shirt’s design as an advertisement to encourage participation. Lastly, the flyer will include a small description of the program’s inspiration and reasoning, describing the green aspects of the program and its “cradle-to-cradle” nature. Although some copies of the flyers themselves will be hung up in both buildings, an electronic copy will be sent out to IES students through IES’s school email roster, so as to reduce paper usage.
There are several incentives behind this project to urge students to participate and recycle their products.
1. Discount on the t-shirt: students will be more inclined to recycle their products instead of simply throwing them away because of the discount on the IES Barcelona shirts. Although there is no monetary reward, this is as close as realistically possible
2. Saving Money: Future students will be able purchase necessary products, like hair irons and European chargers, at a price lower than stores offer
3. Desire to help others: the moral desire to help future students soon to be in similar situations they were once and to help other students save money
For IES Barcelona:
They will need to make an initial investment for inventory costs, but have the opportunity at future profit at the later selling and distribution of these recycled products. They also can attract more students to this program by advertising having this system in place.
3.5 Relationship with Other Initiatives Being Implemented:
When other initiatives are being implemented to promote sustainability, people may chose to engage in many initiatives as that are involved in our project . When using this website that we have helped to design, people are using Open-source software (OSS). Open-source software is completely different from this single website that we are using. It is a computer software with a source code that is made available with a license in which the holder of the copyright provides the rights to change, study, and distribute the software for any person and any purpose. Open-source software is usually developed in a collaborative and public manner. Anyone who wants to upload data, change, or distribute any information from the website http://iesgogreen.seeds4c.org will be using and engaging in Open-source software. In addition, when students engage in posting and selecting products from the website, they are engaging in trade that is almost free. It is not one hundred percent free, because internet access is required in order to access the website.
3.6 How will this action be sustained when you are not here?:
The website will continue to be used by future IES students, and the discounted prices of the recycled products from past semesters will draw new students into the project each semester. The website’s open source nature means that future IES students can not only continue to run the program, but also change it and build off of it as they see fit. The inventory of products itself will have to be stored in between semesters by IES, but the longer the program runs, the more established it will become and the more discounted items will be available to make the program even more attractive to incoming IES students, who will hopefully re-donate those products back in return, sustaining the program.
3.7 Comparison to similar actions from previous semesters?:
Our action is similar to Drop Box and a few other electronic recycling program in that we aim to recycle electronic necessities towards the end of the program and provide them at a low cost for the next coming group of students. All the previous actions include necessity items such as adaptors and chargers. Some even included phones, beddings and books. The timelines of previous actions and ours are similar; we recycle at the end of the semester and resell at the beginning of the next semester using an online inventory system with the help of IES staff. Our actions needed the corporation of IES staff members to sustain in the long term.
The main difference lies in the incentive for the students to recycle. Upon careful analysis, we realized that Drop Box, Electronic Recycle and most of the other programs lacked incentives for students to recycle their products when the recycling was designed as a donation system. Only one other program Buying and Selling electronics offered disbursement for every items recycled. We were inspired by the use of monetary incentive. Additionally, to increase the program’s appeal to students, we offer a discount a well-designed t-shirt of the specific IES term. Assuming that the t-shirt appeals to the collective student body, and that they need to dispose a few commonly used electronic items, students would be encouraged to recycle to receive a discount on the t-shirt.
4. Time sheet/Chronogram:
|December||IES sends out an email to future students about program if they are interested in purchasing discounted items|
|January||IES distributes and sells products to new students just beginning their semester|
|March||IES sends out email to current students about ability to participate in program to receive t-shirt discount|
|April||Students begin to turn in items to inventory|
4.1 Who will do what:
The first part of our project included meeting as a group many times over the course of the semester to collaborate and establish group goals and devise a plan to accomplish them. Our team formed with a common interest in the topic of recycling electronic products. Being that we are study abroad students ourselves, we understand what it’s like to purchase accessories that function in Europe but not having use for them beyond the end of the semester. Thus, we wanted to create an action to promote the recycling of electronic products and help the IES Abroad Barcelona program become more sustainable in this regard.
The second part of our project included dividing the responsibilities among the group. We will all take responsibility of advertising for our action. Our marketing methods will include posting flyers around the two campuses, word of mouth, and an IES mass email. Natalie will be in charge of designing the tee-shirt, The tee-shirt will function as an incentive to promote the recycling of used electronic products as students will receive a discount when purchasing the shirt for doing so. Erik and Molly will be in charge of creating the online inventory website.
4.2 What has been done this semester:
This semester we hope to have successfully found a way to implement our action through the IES Abroad Barcelona program. Our goal was to promote a sustainable method of recycling gently used electronic products and increasing their lifetime usage rather than disposing them.
4.3 What needs to be done to repeat the action in the future?
In order to make our action sustainable for future semesters, the IES staff members will play a critical role in the process. The period between semesters is especially critical. Marketing and awareness methods need to remain consistently high so that incoming students are reminded that they have the option to purchase their electronic products from IES rather than brand new ones from the United States or elsewhere in Barcelona. This will hopefully attract the environmentally and economically conscious students to participate in our action at the start of the semester. During the first week of each subsequent semester, the the flyers that we made will be posted around the school as a way to promote our inventory website.
5. Document format:
Through this program, we have used documents that use the formatting of HTML PHP + My SQL
7. Other references:
The project is mostly inspired and improved from previous projects. Refer to links under 1.2.
8.1 Copyright license of your report:
We have decided to use an Attribution Creative Commons Copyright license. We feel that this license will allow and ecourage future students to build upon our current prototype and continuously improve upon it in whatever way they see fit, while also allowing future students to have the liberty of choosing a different copyright license if they so desire.
8.2 What did you learn and what did you incorporate from the feedback received?
From analyzing the feedback that was received, we learned that students are not necessarily all potential consumers of our website. Some students do not need any of the electronic products that we offer, and some students do not have any to give away that can be posted on the website. In addition, we learned that even if students have electronic products that they could use to post online, it does not mean that they are willing to give away their products to be posted on the website for future students. Even though there are large incentives of using the products to post online such as being more sustainable and helping others to have access to the products for free, some students would choose to sell their products on eBay or to other consumers to make a profit. Money will always be an extremely valued object of all people, and that makes it harder for consumers to be attracted to this free open source software website model. We also learned that the category for items in the inventory must be specific and easy to access. This is why we chose to redesign the “2016 Inventory” section to have fewer and more specific categories than in previous years.
We'd like give a sincere thank you to Prof. X. De Pedro for teaching us about how to be as sustainable as possible and inspiring us to further our reserach and education about sustainable ways of living despite our sad and sudden end of this semester in Barcelona.
8.4 Students involved in this action:
Main Contributors - Chris Bouquet, Molly Brown, Erik Chazin, Joanna Pantelides, and Natalie Yu