The aim of our action is to not only increase sustainability, but to educate students of the importance of sustainability and give them the tools to integrate it into their daily lives. Students spend large amounts money on plastic water bottles that are thrown away after their use. Not only is this wasteful and expensive, but many students are not aware of how to properly dispose of their plastic water bottles which contributes to a number of environmental issues. By encouraging students to purchase a reusable IES water bottle, we wish to eliminate water and plastic waste as well as teach them the importance of sustainable actions such as this one.
1. What Is the Action?
The first part of our action is to allow IES students the option of purchasing a reusable water bottle prior to their arrival. There will be a link on each student's IES Abroad homepage where they will automatically be signed up to receive a water bottle for a small fee, added to their tuition. If a student does not wish to receive a reusable water bottle, they will have to uncheck the option, hopefully ensuring that more students will just leave the option as is.
The second part is to actively educate students of the importance of sustainability. As part of the welcoming sessions, we will provide students with information specific to sustainability such as statistics and quick facts regarding resource use in the world as well as Barcelona to put things into perspective. If students are made more aware of why their actions are important, they will be more willing to carry them out than if they were unaware of their impact on the environment.
Finally, we will explain to students the proper way to dispose of various pieces of waste. The large bins in the street, while accessible, are often hard to decode. We will make students aware of which bins are for which kinds of waste, and the importance of disposing of them in the correct way.
Overall, we wish to use the simple action of administering reusable water bottles as a catalyst for further sustainable behavior in IES students. By educating students about sustainability, we wish to encourage them to use this knowledge in their every day lives to make our world a better place.
o 1.1. Why this action makes things more sustainable?
By implementing this action, IES students will become more sustainable. Countless numbers of plastic water bottles are thrown out daily because students do not have the option of obtaining a reusable water bottle. Additionally, some students do not even put their plastic water bottles in the recycling bin; they simply throw them into the garbage. In Spain, recycling has improved from 10% in 2001 to 33% in 2010. However, this is still a relatively low number. By providing a reusable water bottle, this option of waste is eliminated. Additionally, money is also being saved. Instead of having to buy a new plastic water bottle each day, IES students will be provided with one water bottle for the entire four months. Although buying a water is inexpensive, buying a water each day adds up to create a large amount of money that has been spent. By providing a water bottle to the students, students can spend money elsewhere.
-Students save money by not purchasing water
-Less plastic waste
-Recycling leads to less air pollutants
-Reusable water bottles may contain harmful carcinogens
-Students may prefer to purchase their own water bottle without the IES logo on it
-Just because a student purchases a reusable IES water bottle does not ensure that they will use it every day
-Students can learn more about how they personally impact the environment
-Can spend money previously spent on non-reusable water bottles on more useful items
-IES may not see the benefits in our actions and choose not to help
-Students may overlook the benefit of reusable water bottles and choose to consume other beverages that do not come in sustainable containers such as coffee, soft drinks etc.
o 1.2. "Cradle to Cradle" design
The bottles that we have in mind to use in our action would be made of safe, recyclable, and durable materials. Our action hits the the three R's of recycling and will promote cradle to cradle sustainability all the while providing the students of IES with a cheaper alternative to disposable water bottles. With our action, people will reduce the amount of waste they have by cutting out the use of disposable water bottles, reuse their IES water bottle during their stay in Barcelona and perhaps later on, and recycle since once students opt to get a new bottle or whenever they want to throw their bottle away, they can recycle the bottle (since it will be made of either BPA free plastic or metal) which can then be used for alternative applications. This process, along with information about a cradle-to-cradle design will help students understand the necessity of having sustainable systems and save energy and resources in the process.
o 1.3. Similar actions from previous semesters
In previous years, students have created similar action plans to try and implement the use of reusable water bottles for IES students. Although they’ve all seemed practical and doable, unfortunately none of them have actually been put to use. By simply checking or unchecking a box in order to receive or not receive a reusable water bottle for a small fee provided for IES students by program, we believe many more students will choose to get a reusable water bottle. This will decrease the amount of money students are spending on water bottles on a daily basis, as well as reduce waste in Barcelona.
Provided are some similar actions from previous semesters:
1.3.1. Why this or a similar action didn't succeed in previous semesters?
One of the main problems we have identified in previous groups' attempts to complete this action is communicating with IES administration. While it is likely that the administration supports this action, it is necessary to be persistent with its follow-through, which previous groups did not do. Similarly, we do not believe that enough awareness of the topic was raised amongst IES students. This is a prevalent issue that deserves some publicity which previous groups did not have.
The implementation of our action is only possible with help and support from IES administration and students. We have outlined various steps in achieving this goal.
1. Propose idea to Cesar and other members of IES faculty
2. Provide them with statistics that show why this action would be beneficial
3. Encourage our classmates to consider the idea
4. Spread our message more publicly by putting up fliers around IES with sustainability facts and reminders to conserve water and other resources
5. Follow up with IES faculty if immediate results do not occur
o 2.1. The action
In order to carry out this action there will need to be cooperation with Cesar and the IES administration. If they approve of this action, we can help them purchase bottles and set up a process for students to receive the bottles if they desire. We will also create a sustainability fact sheet that will help students be mindful of sustainable practices and what impact their actions may have on the environment. These fact sheets will be included with all water bottles that are purchased through IES.
o 2.2. Troubleshooting
As mentioned previously, there have been problems completing this action amongst groups who have intended to. One of the main problems we see is that previous groups have not been agressive enough in communicating the idea to IES administration. They also failed to raise awareness amongst their fellow classmates and friends.
Problem 1: Low upkeep of implementation of past groups
Solution 1: Provide strict guidelines for IES faculty to follow
Problem 2: Little to no publicity of the issue to IES students
Solution 2: Post flyers around IES and provide them to friends and classmates
Problem 3: Few clear instructions on how to successfully implement action in the future
Solution 3: Provide students in years to come with useful steps and advice for implementation if it has not been implemented by the time we leave
o 2.3. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?
Since this action can be built into the framework of IES, it will self-perpetuate itself. If the water bottle clause stays in the IES application, then the bottle service can be continued year to year without having someone oversee it. To make sure that it is sustained while we are gone, we will provide detailed instructions to IES to ensure that it is being carried out correctly while we are gone.
4. Other References
This flyer is to be handed out in IES. We also gave this flyer to several of our friends this past weekend.
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o 5.1. Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the previous IES students who thought of this action in the first place.
o 5.2. Students involved in this action
Our group contributed to the project. However, Grace and Lizzie took charge of the group and designated the various jobs to each group member.
Lizzie worked on how the action is sustainable, worked on the implementation with Grace, and edited various information sources on how this action will be sustained when we are not here. I also created the flyer.
Allie worked on similar actions from previous semesters. She looked at what other groups have done in the past regarding reusable water bottles and what we are going to do that is different from others in order for it to actually be put into action by IES.