Electronics Recycling Program - Monica Rodriguez and Isabella Walker

 Read this first

Dear future Sustainability students,

If you are reading this, then you are most likely a member of Professor de Pedro’s Sustainability class at IES Barcelona. Last semester, we made our best attempts at creating the sustainable project (which you are reading about right now). Unfortunately, we were unable to find an IES staff member willing to carry on and spread awareness about this project. So far, we have paved the way as much as we could—all we need is for you to continue where we left off and encourage students’ participation in this action plan, as we did last semester. You can make changes to this plan wherever you see fit—whatever works best to continue this project. We wish you the best of luck and hope this is carried on semester after semester!


Monica and Isabella

1. "Action Design" name (Monica, Isabella...)

1.1. What

Our action plan puts the "Cradle to Cradle" design into play by allowing IES students to donate their electronics (such as converters, adapters, computer chargers, hair straighteners, blow dryers) at the end of the semester and allowing incoming IES students to borrow these electronics free of charge. We have already created a username for the Sustainability Club website, on which there already exists an inventory (http://iesgogreen.seeds4c.org/Inventory). We have also created a flyer that will inform the IES community about this project and will encourage them to participate. We will post this flyer on every bulletin board in IES and will also spread awareness about this project through word of mouth. With help from an IES staff member, we will send out an email informing students about this inventory progam. At the end of the semester, we will set up bins in the IES center and will have volunteer students collect and sort the electronics. We have already started broadcasting this project by telling all our friends and asking them to spread the word. To ensure that we have input for the inventory, some of our friends have already agreed to donate their electronics at the end of April.

1.1.1. Similar actions form previous semesters

There are multiple projects from previous semesters that are similar to our action plan, most notably the one titled, “Trash to Treasure - Inventory and Incentive System” (http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Trash+to+Treasure+-+Inventory+and+Incentive+System&structure=2011a+Spring+Actions). We found it interesting that a plan so similar to ours had already been implemented, but we were not aware of it until recently. It seems that the inventory was set up but not used by IES students, which may be due to unsuccessful advertising, a fundamental contributor to a project’s success. In order for a project like this to flourish, IES should inform students about it during orientation. We have emailed Cesar Alegre, the Center Director of IES Barcelona, to set up a meeting where we will ask him to promote this project during consequent IES sessions. We also think this project would be more successful if there were a higher incentive to donate electronics. Speaking from previous experience, people are more likely to participate in something if they get free food. Therefore, our plan is different from the “Trash to Treasure” plan previously mentioned because we will offer food as an incentive for people to donate to our inventory.

1.1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • Students save money by not buying new electronics and borrowing them instead
  • This project demonstrates sustainability by not requiring the purchasing of new electronics, so one student's "trash" is another student's "food"
  • This project sets an example for a sustainable lifestyle which students can easily follow

  • We don't have anyone to accept responsibility for maintaining the inventory after we leave Barcelona (ie. Updating inventory, advertising, collecting electronics, distributing electronics to students)
  • We don't have an active Sustainability Club at IES to advertise this project and encourage participation
  • Many students are unwilling to donate their electronics until the very last day of classes, making it difficult for us to gather their donations

  • If successful, students in the future can expand this project to incorporate other useful items such as bicycles and skateboards
  • This project could help boost IES's reputation as a "green" and sustainable program
  • This project can foster communication between IES students, forming relationships that would not have been created otherwise

  • We may not have enough participation from IES students to make this project as successful as planned (ex. not enough electronics for the number of students that want to borrow them)
  • Future IES students may not be aware of this project because of lack of advertising
  • Some electronics may not be useful for the students that want to participate in this program (ex. adapters not having the right voltage setting)

1.1.3. Feedback loops

People donate to inventory → students use previously owned electronics → fewer students buy electronics → less waste produced from throwing electronics away → smaller ecological footprint by IES abroad students → improvement of life quality in Barcelona → increased willingness to maintain sustainable lifestyle → more people donate to inventory

1.1.4. Advertising

As we mentioned before, we are going to advertise our action through flyers, emails, and word of mouth. We have attached a copy of the flyer at the bottom of this page.
In addition, we planned on having a discussion with Cesar to try and incorporate an advertisement for this program in the housing survey that all students complete before going abroad. Therefore, this would ensure that all students have read about and are aware of this program before even going abroad. Unfortunately, our email was never answered.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

Our action plan improves the Sustainability of IES Abroad Barcelona because it encourages people to move away from the mindset that they need to buy new products, when there are plenty of previously owned products that work perfectly fine. The transition to this mindset should be facilitated by the fact that students would rather spend their money on food and transportation than electronics that they will only need for a semester. As a result of our proposed plan, the ecological footprint of IES students should be reduced. Our project is eco-effective because it takes old electronics that would otherwise be thrown away and allows them to be reused, which makes one student’s “waste” another student’s “food.” Another sustainable characteristic of our project is that after we're done using the bins to collect electronics, we plan on reusing them as flower pots instead of throwing them away. We have asked Sarah and Justine to give us some of the leftover seeds and soil they didn't use for their project, and we plan on putting these bins on the terrace.

1.2.1. Potential Benefits

Our project offers a long-term benefit of a diminishing mentality that it is necessary to continually purchase new products when there is the option to easily reuse a pre-owned product. Furthermore, this project can serve as a template, which future IES students can expand to also include useful items such as bicycles and skateboards. If successful, this project would improve the reputation of IES by showing that it is a “green” and sustainable program. Furthermore, this project gives students the opportunity to meet one another in circumstances that would not otherwise be.

1.2.2. Potential Costs

Potential costs for our project may be the time it takes for us to collect electronics, sort them, and log them into the inventory. Another small cost for this plan is the paper we will use to print out our flyers. In addition, using food as an incentive for people to contribute to our electronics inventory may require us to spend time and/or money to prepare food.

1.3. How

Students from previous semesters have already created an inventory with electronics, but we want to increase awareness of this program and therefore increase participation in this project. We want students to be aware from the start of the semester that pre-owned electronics are available for use, free of charge. Before our departure back to the U.S., we will post flyers and spread the word about our plan in order to encourage participation and donation to our inventory. We will also volunteer to collect electronics from IES students and log them into the inventory. A link to our flyer is available at the bottom of this action page.

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Fortunately, our project will produce very little waste. The only things that will result as waste will be the flyers we post on the bulletin boards. Once these flyers are taken off the bulletin board, they can be used as paper on which to print something out, or to take notes, etc. Every other resource we’re using for our project is an intangible object (such as word of mouth or an email) and will not produce any waste.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

Two questions we asked the IES student body that would help us with our project are:

  • Since getting to Barcelona, did you buy new adapters/converters/chargers/straighteners or did you use previously owned electronics from your host families (if applicable)?
  • About how much money did you spend on electronics at the beginning of the semester?

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

Unfortunately, we were unable to read the results from the survey due to technical difficulties. We hope this problem does not arise for future action pages.

1.3.4. Incentives

One obvious incentive for why students would want to participate in our project is not having to spend money on buying new electronics. Since many of us are on a budget during our time abroad, saving money is high on our list of priorities. Furthermore, if we offer food in exchange for donations, we are likely to increase participation.

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

Our action has an intimate relationship with the Sustainability Club because the inventory we will use is on the Sustainability Club website. Therefore, whenever students want to borrow an item, they will come across this website and will be informed about Sustainability Club activities and ways to get involved.

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

We have emailed Cesar to set up a meeting where we can discuss how to make this project flourish after we leave Barcelona. A copy of our email can be found at the bottom of this action page.

1.3.7. Who will do what

We (Monica and Isabella) will volunteer to collect electronics from students at the end of the semester and add them to the inventory. Our flyers also welcome any IES student or staff member to volunteer if they wish.

1.3.8. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

As previously stated, the action page titled, “Trash to Treasure - Inventory and Incentive System” (http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Trash+to+Treasure+-+Inventory+and+Incentive+System&structure=2011a+Spring+Actions) is very similar to our project. However, the two fundamental changes we will make are: 1) improve the advertising aspect of the program so that more students are aware of it, and 2) offer food as an incentive to increase participation in the inventory.

1.3.9. Document format

"//creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="http://i.creativecommons.org/l/by-sa/3.0/88x31.png" /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/">Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License</a>"

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

Our progress can be tracked through the inventory web page. Every time someone adds to the inventory, a time stamp is placed on it so that everyone can see when the item was added and if the item is available or not.

Month 1 of IES Session Have students see our action page & read our letter
Month 2 of IES Session Students spread awareness about this project & make necessary changes
Month 3 of IES Session Students plan for collection of electronics and continue to encourage participation
Month 4 of IES Session Students collect and store electronics

Admin, Steph.eastlake, Xavi. <http://sustainability.seeds4c.org/Trash+to+Treasure+-+Inventory+and+Incentive+System&structure=2011a+Spring+Actions> Web. 2011. Accessed March 2012.

1.6. Annexes

The following link is a link to our flyer, which can be easily accessed and edited on Google Docs by anyone.


Image IESBarcelonaSustainabilityClubElectronicsFlyer.odt

This is a link to a copy of the email that we sent to Cesar:

(A copy of our email to Cesar, sent March 14, 2012):

"Dear Cesar,

We’re taking Professor De Pedro’s Sustainability class and currently working on a project where students can donate electronics (such as converters, hair dryers, and chargers) at the end of the semester to be reused by incoming IES students. As we were working on this project, we found out that there was already an existing inventory on the IES Sustainability Club website. However, we think that in order for this to flourish, students need to be more aware of the inventory. Could we set up a meeting for some time next week to encourage participation in this inventory program? We are free on Tuesday and Thursday after 12:15—does either of these times work for you?

Thank you,
Monica Rodriguez and Isabella Walker"

1.7. Students involved in this action

For our project, we would like to create an inventory where students can donate their converters, adapters, computer chargers, hair straighteners, blow dryers, and other electronics they will no longer need after leaving Barcelona. Toward the end of the semester, we will set up bins in the IES center and encourage students to donate their used electronics. We will also spread the word about this program through emails, flyers, and word of mouth. Students would donate these electronics and they would be logged into a system to keep track of them. At the start of the next semester, IES students will be informed about this system and will be encouraged to use previously owned electronics. Incentive for this program should be high because many students will want to save their money for other things like food and transportation. Once a student borrows an item, it will be logged into the system under the student´s name. At the end of the semester, the student would return the product for future use to continue the electronics recycling program.

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