Eco-Friendly Marketing - Reusbale Canvas Bags


1. Reusbale Canvas Bags 

1.1. What

            At the beginning of the semester, all IES students were given re-usable bags. However, I have yet to see one student at IES using this bag. I know that my bag broke within weeks of using it, and I was forced to go out and buy another bag. I think that an alternative to the black plastic bags would be re-usable white canvas bags that would allow students to write on them with reusable markets. Students could write on their bags about various restaurants and markets that they have attended so that they can remember their experience here. Another sustainable aspect of this improved action would be encouraging students to pass the bags down for future IES students to use as guides for local markets and restaurants. Instead of throwing them away at the end of the semester, students could return their reusable bags for Eco Euro points. IES would even provide reusable pens to accompany the bag. Canvas also works as a more sturdy material and is more physically pleasing than an oversized black plastic bag. The bags themselves on average cost only 15 cents more than the ones IES distributed last semester to its students. Therefore, I am in the process of attempting to get iES to make the switch. If the bags are not provided next semester, my hope is that someone will continue to improve upon the groundwork of this action by ensuring canvas bags are being used. 

            Re-usable canvas bags are an improved action from last semester’s action titled "Reusable bags and water bottles". This action has a smaller scale focus that will work to encourage students to attend local markets and utilize their canvas bags. By ascribing meaning to the bags, hopefully this action will motivate students to become more economically efficient and limit the plastic-bag waste that is the easier option. To ensure that information is not lost, students will be rewarded eco euros each time they write on their bags. As my classmate Sean proposed, the usage of reusable bags with me 1 eco euro point a week. Students who purchase their own reusable bags in addition to the one provided by IES will receive more points for each bag they use. Also, an Eco Euro system will go into effect regarding the contributions each IES student completes by writing on their bags. For every market or organic food store that is documented on the canvas bag, the IES student will receive 5 eco Euros. Also, there will be a 20 eco euro award for every student that returns the bag back to IES at the end of the semester. Because not all students will want to participate, students will be asked prior to receiving their bag if they would like a reusable pen to accompany the bag so that they are able to participate in this action. This will increase the likelihood of information being passed down, as well as increase the usage of the bags by providing an incentive.  At the beginning of the semester we also receive a list of markets to attend. By simply writing these addresses down on the bags, students will have a constant reminder of all of the market options within Barcelona.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

            This action makes life abroad more sustainable because it encourages students to reduce their ecological footprints by using reusable products and not  be wasteful by using plastic non-recyclable ones. Plastic bags are not biodegradable.

            According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, each year an estimated 500 million to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed . The average family uses approximately 60 plastic bags within four trips to the grocery store. Only .5% -3% of these bag are recycled each year. Every square mile of the ocean has roughly 46,000 pieces of floating plastic within it. When plastic is broken down it does not biodegrade. It photo-degrades which means it breaks down into smaller fragments that soak up toxins, contaminate soil, waterways and end up in animals’ digestive systems. One viable solution to solving the problem and preventing the environmental harm of plastic bags is shifting to the usage of reusable bags. Each reusable bag can eliminate hundreds, if not more plastic bags. ( Information from Reuseit.com, BBC and the UN) Greenpeace says that at least 267 marine species are known to have suffered from getting entangled in or ingesting marine debris. Nearly 90% of that debris is plastic.By making the switch from plastic bags to reusable ones, IES students will aid in making our environment more sustainable.

            The new aspect of this action will also increase the sustainability of knowledge so that it can be passed down from semester to semester. Also, once we make one generation have the mentality that plastic bags are bad for the environment this mentality can be passed down. Our parents use plastic and paper bags at grocery stores because it is what they know. if we foster the switch of individuals using canvas bags, we are creating a new path of knowledge for the future.  By allowing students to write on these canvas bags local markets or restaurants that they have visited in the city, they are creating a whole host of information available just by carrying this bag. Once the semester is over students will be encouraged to return these canvas bags to IES for future students to use. Students will now have a canvas tote that provides a sustainable lifestyle and multiple options for eating out and grocery shopping. This way of life might also appear easier to students who successfully use the reusable bags. Therefore, they will attempt to continue this action at home when shopping for groceries at their local universities or hometowns.


1.2.1. SWOT Analysis



  • Limits usage of plastic bags
  • Lessens individuals ecological footprints
  • Reduces our “throw-away” mindset
  • No cost- bags are provide by IES Abroad
  • Saves animals
  • Lessens pollutants in the oceans
  • Decreases consumption of plastic and fossil fuels
  • Canvas= sturdy fabric
  • Canvas= can write on it ( various market addresses or restaurant names)



  • only for IES Barcelona students
  • does not reach to local community or encourage entire community to use reusable bags
  • relies on student participation-students need to use the bags in order for its effect to be positive
  • no regulation of who is using the bags
  • bags cost money for IES office
  • only one bag is provided to students




  • Eco-Euro System as an incentive
  • Information
  • Save money
  • Canvas bags- allow people to remember addresses and locations of markets by writing them down on the bag themselves



  • Plastic bags are seen as more convenient
  • People may forget to bring their bags with them to the store
  • Only one reusable bag may not be enough room to hold all of the groceries

1.2.2. Feedback loops

Using bags= decreases pollution=better environment to live in

Using bags= no cost for plastic bags= saves money

Using bags= helps IES students= return bags to IES= helps future IES students

1.2.3. Potential Benefits

            Reusable grocery bags are larger and more durable than plastic bags, making them less likely to break. They can also have a larger carrying capacity. When students bring groceries back to their homes in Barcelona, they would have to carry one reusable bag rather than three or four plastic ones.

1.2.4. Potential Costs

            The IES abroad office will cover the cost of this project. The canvas bags themselves are less than 50 cents per unit, and therefore it will not be a huge economical imposition to the program offices. IES has already agreed in previous semesters to cover the cost of the reusable bags and will continue to do so. The only other cost of this action is time. IT will take time to distribute the products as well as time to advertise the products.

1.3. How

            The reusable bags will be distributed to each IES student upon arrival to the program. There will be no extra fee or charge for the bag. At the end of the semester students will have the option of returning the bags for Eco-Euros so that future IES students who may want more than one bag can reuse them and gain Eco Euros for doing so.  I am continuing to work with the IES faculty on switching over to canvas bags and providing sharpies so students can write on their individual bag. Advertisements will occur through an email being sent out to all of IES students abroad. A copy of this potential email is attached to the bottom of this page design. 

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

            The “cradle to cradle“ design can be readily applied to the reusable bag action. The bags themselves will be reused with each semester. This is the idea of waste=food. If a student no longer wants the reusable bags and considers it “waste” another student within a future semester will consider this “food” and use the bag as his or her own.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

These are the following questions I submitted to Vanessa for the survey:

1. Will students attend a bag making session with their own fabric at IES?

2. Would students buy a bag designed by students that have addresses and locations of various markets in Barcelona?

3. Would IES provide re-usable bags at the start of each semester if the cost were 50 cents per bag?

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

            Initially I wanted to have a bag making session where students could design their own bags by using fabric that would serve as reusable bags, however according to the survey this action would not have succeeded because only 30 percent of people would have attended. However, a majority of students (over 50 percent) stated that they would use a bag given by IES that had market locations listed on the bags themselves, proving that the canvas bags would be a good alternative to the black bags that served no function or meaning. Furthermore, 55 percent of students said they would pay 50 cents at the start of the semester to get a reusable bag. Now that the costs are covered by IES, students will most certainly use their reusable bags, and maybe even go out and spend money on another reusable bag. Based on the results of the survey, it is clear this action will be successful.

1.3.4. Incentives

            Eco Euros will be provided to students who use their reusable bags. Also, eco Euros will be rewarded at the beginning of the semester to those students who commit to returning their bags at the end of the semester to be used by future IES students. There is also a personal incentive involved. By using reusable bags, you are saving money. A lot of grocery stores charge 5 cents per plastic bag used. This way you are reducing your ecological footprint and your spending simultaneously.

1.3.5. Relationship with the "Sustainability Club" (SC)

            The relationship with the Sustainability Club is essential for this action to work. The sustainability club will aid in encouraging all of its members to use the reusable bags and ensure that IES continues to distribute these bags at the beginning of each semester. The Sustainability club will also reward Eco Euros to students who use reusable bags.

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

         As I have continued this action for this semester, ensuring that reusable bags will be distributed this summer and next fall, I believe the action has already become sustainable due to IES faculty’s commitment to fostering and encouraging the usage of reusable bags. I have already ensured that speaking to Betsey and Olga within the IES Faculty office will continue this action. They believe it is a great cause and will continue to pursuer this action.

            However, Each semester improvements should be made upon this action such as this semesters switch the canvas bag. These additions and changes to the past action are designed to make students more willing and more excited about using reusable bags. Essentially, we want to make reusable bags “cool.” At home, a lot of boutiques and trendy stores carry designer reusable bags with fashionable prints and styles. In the future, students should look into making bags more fashionable or stylish.            

1.3.7. Document format

            I will distribute advertisements of using the canvas bags by sending out an email discussing the potential harms of using plastic bags as well as addressing the positive affects using reusable bags has on the environment. I will also use Facebook as a means of ensuring all students use these bags. Also, by using the blog WheretoEATinBCN, I will advertise by posting links to various websites where students can buy their own reusable bags. Thus, the document type that I will be using is an html format

1.3.8. Copyright license of your report

CC BY: This license lets others distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon your work, even commercially, as long as they credit you for the original creation. This is the most accommodating of licenses offered. Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.

            I believe the key concept behind sustainable actions is letting others build off of your ideas. I would use this copyright license because I believe it is the most flexible and will be the most advantageous to future IES students. I did not create the concept of reusable bags, or even starting up reusable bags at IES, however I have built upon the concept. The only way to continue growing and continue sharing this wealth of ideas to promote change within the community is by letter others borrow and build upon what you have laid the groundwork and foundation for.



I will also use the copyright of Share Alike so that freedom is ensured by the copyright law and that license.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

WHO: The individual in charge of advertising the bags through an email will be someone in the IES Faculty. The president of the Sustainability Club will advertise to its fellow members. 


Distribute reusable bags to Spring IES students  and send Email regarding the bags for advertisement. 


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Distribute reusable bags to Summer IES students


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Distribute reusable bags to Fall IES students


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.


Advertise usage of bags through Sustainability club and Facebook.

1.5. References & Links

Pomeroy, Grace. Reusable Grocery Bag. Rep. Sustainability: Challenges and Responses, 2010. Web. 01 Dec. 2010.







1.6. Students involved in this action

Members of the Sustainability  Club: for using their own reusable bags and promoting the cause.

Martha Tahsler : for giving me great feedback on my brainstorming page

Email to be Sent out to IES Students ( Advertisement for Reusable Bags)

Hello IES Students,

            IES has provided each and every student with their own reusable canvas bag. These bags are environmentally friendly and very useful when you begin grocery shopping in Barcelona. They are extremely durable and you may decorate them as well! They are canvas material which means that you can directly write on each of the bags so that you are able to remember the addresses and names of various markets you come across in Barcelona. Remember to make use of these bags while you are abroad. You can also earn eco-euros for using your bags. If you have any questions please contact anyone in the Sustainability Club at http://iesgogreen.seeds4c.org

Have a great semester!


 Assignment 4: Peer review form

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Items found: 16
Grade per actionReviewerComments
92 Brian McNevinThe continued action of reusable canvas bags is a really good idea seeing as though many people have forgotten about the one that IES already provided whether it be because of them broken or getting lost. Also, as you said plastic bags from grocery stores are not biodegradable as some canvas bags are, but they also cost money for each bag you use. One thing that I would add to this action is include a card or something with the bag that shows not only markets , but also other stores that specialize in selling biodegradable items if there are any that exist.
92 carlafMaking the bags more user-friendly by making them white so people can draw on them encourages them not only to not waste plastic bags but also to show their creativity. I love the idea that these bags can be designed and made unique to each individual. It serves two purposes. Although these bags are only for IES students, maybe they could eventually also be distributed / sold to the public.
96 CFaheyI think this is a very informative action and is important and feasible for future IES students. Plastic bag waste is a huge issue as you stated and durable cheap reusable bags would make a difference. I actually never recieved a reusable bag at the beginning of the semester but did purchase one at a local store within the first few stops at the store. Good action no changes necessary in my opinion.
90 gnardiI really like the way the author went about this continued action because they focused on a specific aspect of last years action. I really really liked the idea of writing on the bag and then passing it down, because I know that when I got here I didn't really have that much of an idea of good places to eat. It also creates a nice tradition within the IES community. Also, the time sheet and chronogram table was organized very well.
91 jschayeThis is really creative. Do you know how much this will cost for IES to buy these materials and not make any money back? (I am all about contests) so maybe you could have a contest for the most creative bag or something to give more students an incentive to get one and design it!
91 Kmacdonald4First of all, well researched report. I think handing out canvas bags is a great idea for IES and something I think a lot of students would use. The idea of writing on them in sharpie also makes it unique and personal for students. The only thing is that students may want to take their bags home as a keepsake (but if they are still putting the bags to good use in the states, it is better than them getting plastic bags everytime they shop). Also, eco euros at the end of the semester as an incentive to turn the bags back in may not work because students wont have any need for eco euros when they leave Barcelona. I really like the idea of switching to canvas bags though as they are much more durable
90 m.bernsteinI think the idea of the white canvas bags is an awesome idea. You should also look into collecting previously used bags for the future. Students might use the bags here but as soon as they leave throw them out. If they are extremely dirty and ruined I'd say collect them and re-use them for future semesters because that would help with waste issues as well. This action can be very easily implemented. Good work
91 MarthaMayBy rewarding students with eco euros for designing your bag throughout the semester and then passing the bag down makes this action much more sustainable. The incentive will help with students who are not motivated enough to write on their bag. I also applaud you for taking an old action and tweaking it in order to improve it!
97 MbowermanI think this is a great idea. My bag broke pretty quickly also and it makes much more sense to provide a bag that will last for sometime instead of breaking and needing to be replaced so quickly.
65 obiajuluThis is a good project especially because it saves students money at those supermarkets that they charge for plastic bags.
95 Sarah ColeI think this is a great idea and much better than the bags currently given out by IES. However, I think canvas bags would be used by female students but I'm not sure how many male students would actually use these. I think its a great idea that students have the option of returning them at the end of the semester in return for ECOeuros.
91 seantubridyI like the idea of having students write on the bag, but I don't think many of the students in IES Barcelona will take the time to do it. The bags definitely need to be of nicer quality. The ones that IES gave us at the beginning of the semester were useless and ripped on my second trip to the grocery store. Good job with the presentation
91 SolomonBPI like the idea of having a nice bag if Administration is cool with paying the difference. Also giving students the possibility to write different things on the bag, to record memories along the way would be a bonus.
92 steph.eastlakeI think this is a great program for IES Barcelona to continue. I liked how she used her feedback from the survey to alter and improve her plan since she found out that people would not attend the bag making day. I think that if IES can provide these bags for a small price this is a really great idea especially if people are willing to pay a small price so IES can get their money back. I also think its a great idea to write names of restaurants and shops on the bag because the bag will be with you most of the time and it is easy to forget the names of things. I think that to improve upon this action, she should find a way to provide sharpies for the bags and possibly have a specific place to put them in the bag because most students don't come with sharpie markets. But overall I think this is a great project.
83 vsienkieI like this idea but how can you be sure that the students will actually write the markets on the bag? I know I probably would not write the markets on the bags. You should do some research on how much more money it would be to have the name of some markets on the bag. I think this would be more sustainable because it would ensure that the students know about the bags, it would also remind them to go to those markets because they would be constantly looking at the name.
88 vydraThis is very interesting, as I noticed that no one uses their black plastic bags anymore either. This would help the community in a great way throughout the semester, as students who purchase their own groceries could use these bags instead of using the plastic bags given to them at the supermarkets. I would make sure that these canvas bags are sturdy enough, because if students get the bags and feel that they are flimsy, they will probably forget about them right away.

 Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)

Items found: 2
1.8 Eco-Friendly Marketing: Reusbale Canvas Bags (Abby Glusker) Good Overall idea: very creative! That you looked for similar actions fmo previous semesters, and extended/improved their work/design. Well done! Using the EcoEuro system of incentives. 1.2.4. Getting IES Abroad Office cover the expenses. 1.3.3. Re-designing your action in time, based on the (partial, but at least some) survey results. 1.3.6. Good that you got two people from the staff (Betsey and Olga) committed with this action! 1.6. Good that you cited the people that provided valuable feedback for your action. Overall report, in general. Improvable Sharpie pens seem to be disposable: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharpie_(marker). Why not refillable permanent markers? (they exist, and can be bought in Abacus, from Staedler brand, at least, as far as I know. And Abacus cooperative is less than 1 km far from IES Abroad Barcelona (see the nearest shop in http://abacus.coop , in Ausiàs March street in Barcelona) Where do you plan to get the canvas from? 1.1. "By simply writing these addresses down on the bags, students will have a constant reminder of all of the market options within Barcelona." Well, yes, good, but how do you prevent information loss over time? Remember that keeping single copies of information, and on materials easily destroyed or lost, increases a lot the risks of information loss. Why not providing also ecoeuros for each record added to a database of places, stored in the SC website? Or at least, you could start by requesting to add that information in a simple wiki pages created for such goal at the SC website, and it takes just less than 5 minutes to log in, edit the page, and save. And the new information is copied/shared by email instantly automatically by the website to all students who subscribed to be notified of changes of that page. Try doing that before the 2nd deadline of your paper. And request help when and where needed. 1.2. " According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, ..." You cite some source of information, but that source is not clearly identified in the references section. Improve (provide full details of your source). "The new aspect of this action will also increase the sustainability of knowledge. (...) ". Again, use the knowledge gained at the session about the sustainability of knowledge. Re-read your notes, and improve your design to reduce the risk of valuable information loss. I suggested some easy complementary action above to achieve this goal. 1.2.1. S: Why this action saves animals? Why cloth bags (current bags provided for students) are hurting animals? Clarify or rewrite. W: "no regulation of who is using the bags". Mmmm, my own (X.de Pedro) brainstorming here... (not about regulation but about incentives): Why not promoting (for other semesters?) some incentive in a photo contest about pictures taken on places where you are using the bag. So that you have to use the bag, and someone takes a picture of you with the bag. The best 3 pics (or price per pic, with a maximum number of pics per person allowed) received some prize... (some veggies and fruit from the wwoofer-type of day of service?). Or some ecoeuros? 1.2.2. You wrote causal effects (and they belong more to the "Potential benefits" section, in fact), not full loops. Identify full loops (if any), and state whether they are reinforcing or balancing (the more they reinforce positive actions, the better). 1.2.4. Who is the provider of such canvas bags at less than 50 cents / each? (and provide full details in the references section) (& 1.3. How): find prices for those refillable permanent markers, and the recharge units. See comments above on Abacus coop. as an example in the nearby. 1.3.4 Incentives. "Also, eco Euros will be rewarded at the beginning of the semester to those students who commit to returning their bags at the end of the semester to be used by future IES students" Which incentive do I have to bring the canvas bag back at the end of the semester? That can be easily solved by having them add a cash deposit (in euros, let's say 5 euro?) that will be given back at the end when they deliver back the canvas bag. Just an idea, to increase the rte of returning bags at the end... I know when it's return time to the USA, you need (in general) some incentive to do some extra bureaucracy step, if you are not very committed to it... Or maybe some ecoeuros given to the RA (or others) who rescue canvas bags at the end from students who left them in their apartments or dorms? 1.3.5. How many ecoeuros for using a bag? Expand, and coordiante with the students redesigning the ecoeuro system: The New and Improved EcoEuro - Sean Tubridy. 1.3.7. "I will distribute advertisements of using the canvas bags by sending out an email ...". Please, provide a copy of such email at the end, as an Annex to your report. 1.3.8. "[CC-BY] (...) Recommended for maximum dissemination and use of licensed materials.". Well, this is discussable, at least. Without the Share-Alike part (sa), I could get the document, edit it, and release a new version with the "all rights reserved to me" type of license, and thus, cutting the chain of freedom in the modified (improved) version of you document. With the "sa" part, you force them to keep modified versions with the same (or compatible) license, so that freedom is ensured by the copyright law and that license. 1.4. Add the column "who", to indicate who would do that action that month. Facebook: which page? link? And provide also links to that information from the SC website ( http://club.iesbarcelona.org ) to avoid too much dispersal of information... Advertise usage of bags...: how are you going to do that advertising? Provide samples of the material that you will use (or have used) for advertising. add pictures of the bags, to see how they might look like. Some proof of concept? (do one and write the address in there with the permanent markers?)
The reported feedback loops: they are not full loops. Reusable pens: refillable, I guess you mean. License is not cc-by. or cc-sa, but cc-by-sa. Good to have added a draft for email to students with a picture of the bag. 2nd

Page last modified on Monday 03 of November, 2014 19:22:03