Recycling Textbooks - Brian McNevin

1. Action name

Reusing and Recycling Readers

1.1. What

This action focuses on saving paper by allowing for IES students to place their old readers in bins at the end of the semester so that IES Abroad Barcelona would not have to continue re-printing them. Basically, during the last week of the semester (May 1), students will be able to dispose of their readers into bins located throughout the IES Center. These readers will then be stored, waiting for the next semesters students to arrive and classes to begin. As faculty prepare their syllabus, many of these readers will then be able to be used in future semesters for IES students, without wasting paper by re-printing hundreds of pages. Those lessons that faculty decide will not be used, can then be disposed of properly by being recycled.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?


  • Resilience
  • Change in Attitudes
  • Reducing dependency on...
  • Ecological/Water footprints
  • Externalization of costs
  • Long term effects
  • Feedback loops (balancing / reinforcing, lagged or not)
  • SLEN vs. TINA
  • Copyleft (CC)...
  • Free Software
  • "Cradle to cradle" design (Waste = Food)
  • Eco-effectiveness (vs. Eco-efficiency)
  • ...

A study conducted in 1995 by the European Environment Agency revealed that Catalonia produced 1,984 thousand tons of biodegradable municipal waste, while 1,481 thousand tons of that was improperly disposed of in landfills. Biodegradable municipal waste thrown in landfills not only releases greenhouse gas emissions into the environment, but also wastes a valuable resource that can be recycled and used as other resources. This type of waste includes paper.

None-the-less, why throw the paper away in the recycling bin when the additional energy to produce something else need not be used. Hundreds of readers are given to IES Abroad students each semester when they come to study, whether it be here in Barcelona, or elsewhere. Providing bins for students to place old readers so that they can be reused for future students creates an extremely more sustainable IES Abroad because using the readers over the course of several semesters allows for not only longevity of good product, but massive conservation of it as well. This also demonstrates the "Cradle to Cradle" design of waste = food in that the readers that students from this semester place in the bins, or the waste, will become the readers that students from future semesters will be able to use, or the food.

Reusing the readers from semester to semester also displays the eco-effectiveness .vs. eco-efficiency theory. Recycling the paper from the readers would display eco-efficiency because although there would be waste being generated, it is being properly disposed of so that other products may be produced. On the other hand, simply reusing the readers from semester to semester shows eco-effectiveness because there is no waste created at all.

This action would also allow IES to lower their ecological footprint in the long term significantly as reusing the textbooks throughout several semesters rather than recycling them will save thousands of sheets as semester in waste. There is also a balancing feedback loop in regards to this action. Collecting and reordering the readers to distribute to later students means less paper and money, causing IES to collect the readers again.

1.2.1. SWOT Analysis


Saves money by not having to reprint every page from every book

Lowers the amount of waste generated by IES

Readers will be reused for several semesters

Lower ecological footprint

More room in landfills for other formas of waste


Initial cost for bins to put readers in

Takes up space in the IES Center

Takes time to collect and reorder all the readings

Binders cost money


Allows IES to think about setting up bins to reuse other products (clothing, electronics)

Builds community by allowing students and staff outside of the classroom (by collecting and reordering readers together)

Allows IES to inform students of a more sustainable lifestyle (eco-effectiveness .vs. eco-efficiency: find other ways to use items rather than dispose of them

Use binders for ease of transferring readings


Some students may not participate

Overfilling could create a problem with space in the IES Center

(see free_SWOT_analysis_template.pdf)

1.2.2. Feedback loops

IES collects readers to redistribute -> Less paper and money -> IES collects readers again (This is a balancing loop because collecting the readers for future students means less wasted paper and money, which encourages IES to continue to collect the readers.

1.2.3. Potential Benefits

- Lower ecological footprint
- Saves money
- Lowers waste generated by IES
- Products will be reused
- Encourages students to lead a more sustainable life

1.2.4. Potential Costs

- Initial cost for bins to place readers in
- Time it requires to seperate books
- Storage space
- Binders, hole-punchers


1.3. How

There will be an end of the year event in which all of the readers will be disassembled so that the readers will be able to be reordered for next semester. IES administration has agreed to purchase pizza and refreshments for those that are there to help. IES will instruct the helpers there of the proper way to take the readers apart and properly recycle/reuse the readings. Flyers will be hung informing students who wish to help, although IES has not given a specific date yet as is the reason they are not up yet.

The flyer to be sent to students:


Come out and help the Sustainability Club recycle the readers for next semester and get some!

Party is TBD. (Obviously this will change when the date is set.)

Come help IES and enjoy some time with friends!

Image BOOKS.odt

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

This action is extremely sustainable and currently ready for the "Cradle to Cradle" approach. The readers that will be collected, will be stored by the IES staff, and reused by students in future semesters, demonstrating the waste = food concept.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

"Do you think that students would place their readers in designated recycling bins at the end of the semester or not? "

In future semesters, this question would be "what do you plan on doing with your readers at the end of the semester?"

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

I actually changed my action after the survey was closed, so my current question is not the same, but similar to my old one as they both involve saving paper. According to the survey, approximately 3 out of 4 students would agree to put their readers in recycling bins for reuse by future students. I believe that this is a realistic number being as they would be lowering the waste generated by IES Abroad Barcelona and it is something that is relatively easy to perform. In fact, I believe that with all of IES participating the number would actually be higher.

The answers to the new question would be answered in the future by others taking the survey.

1.3.4. Incentives

Reusing readers is something that can be very beneficial to the people at IES. For example, one possible incentive to participate is having IES purchase something for the students, such as reusable water bottles with the money that will be saved from not having to reprint the books. Another incentive is for people to realize that they really are making a difference for the environment. Each ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees, 25 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, and 3 cubic feet in a landfill. However, when you simply reuse rather than recycle, you are really saving more.

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

I am currently in talks with Solomon to see if the Sustainability Club would be interested in participating, even if it be posting fliers in the IES Center or sending emails to students.

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

After the semester is over, there is not much needed to be done. The readers simply need to be stored somewhere until next semesters students arrive, at which point someone at IES will need to organize the readers so that they may be distributed. Then, at the end of that semester, bins will need to be placed out for students to put their old readers in, and the cycle continues.

1.3.7. Document format

This webpage is available in a .html format. The email that will be sent to students was created using using Microsoft with a .odt format.

1.3.8. Copyright license of your report

I am choosing to use the Attribution-ShareAlike copyright license because it gives me credit for the piece, but still allows for others to make modifications.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

Brian McNevin - Will hang flyer and participate in reader disassembling event when a date is given. - Time Unknown

1.5. References & Links

Baxter, Fiona, and Peter Schmigel. "Recycling - How Does Australia Compare?." Nolan-ITU Pty Ltd 2002, 04 2010. Web. 22 Apr 2011. .
Hannequart, Jean-Pierre. "A Priority for Europe." Waste Prevention. N.p., 30 11 2009. Web. 22 Apr 2011. .
"Indicator Fact Sheet Signals 2001 - Chapter Waste." Biodegradable waste in landfills. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr 2011. .
"What a Waste!." N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr 2011. . .populationeducation.org>.eea.europa.eu>.resourcesnotwaste.org>.environment.gov.au>

1.6. Students involved in this action

Brian McNevin performed this action alone.


 Assignment 4: Peer review form

You do not have permission to insert an item

Items found: 16
Grade per actionReviewer Comments
89 agluskerI think this a great idea. I have not been in the IES program before, so I am not sure if they recycled in the past, but I definitely think readers should be recycled. Even if there was no incentive I think students would be inclined to donate their readers. You should get in touch with faculty so that they can advertise their students about how to recycle their readers at the end of the semester. Did you talk to IES about how much the price difference would be for used vs. new readers? I think that would be a great idea.
90 carlafGreat way of being both environmentally and fiscally responsible. Recycling the readers is a good way of improving the sustainability at IES. Half of the content in these readers remains untouched, either IES should print less, or utilize more online resources. Students should definitely be encouraged to start bringing their readers to school during the last two weeks of school.
96 CFaheyThis is a great idea and feasible option that does not take much work from IES students. One suggestion is to recycle the readers that students took notes in. Im sure they would have been recycled anyway if they couldnt be reused but be sure to keep that in mind.
92 gnardi think this is really smart. IES definitely wastes a lot of paper by handing out brand new readers every semester. also, used readers would cost less money, so the student would end up paying less for the reader that semester, which everyone can appreciate. Maybe you could make donating your reader mandatory, so there would not really need to be an incentive to do it. For example, people could get charged for not returning their reader at the end of the semester. If they wanted to keep it, they could pay to keep it.
89 Julia NuttI think that this is really good idea. The amount of paper that IES wastes each semester printing out those readers is incredible. I know that I will just be throwing my readers away or recycling them when they could go to perfectly good use somewhere else. I know that I write some notes in my reader but I know that that could be helpful to future students if they choose to have a used reader for a discounted price.
92 Kmacdonald4I think this is a great idea. Its silly of IES to reprint the readers each semester, especially when the material is barely changing, if at all. In terms of the issue of storage space, I think one of the spare study rooms could be used. THey are regular sized classrooms that rarely have more than 3 or 4 people in them so a neat stack or readers would not get in anyones way. Also regarding the issue of organizing them, you could have individual professors collect the readers for their courses and place them in neat piles so that the various readers did not get mixed up. I think a lot of students will be willing to give their readres back to IES
91 m.bernsteinthis idea is very smart. Once students leave IES they have no use for their readers so most readers are just going to end up in the trash. It also is very easy to collect old readers if IES allows you to put a bin out at the end of the semester. In you feedback loop section talk about how collecting readers decreases IES Barcelona Abroads ecological footprint by not adding so much wasted paper to the landfills.
94 MarthaMayGreat idea! I know personally I will donate my readers and if I had the option to get free used readers I absolutely would! If IES was not willing to participate I would suggest that they charge students a reduced cost for the recycled readers. This is only if IES was not willing to store them over the summer.
86 MbowermanI think this idea great. If they didn't do this they definitely should. Another thing that might be helpful is using textbooks that they can re-use instead of paper readers that are easily damaged or completely moving to an online-reading only system.
91 obiajuluThis is a good idea and very sustainable. The benefits from this can be seen directly after implementation.
96 Sarah ColeI think this is a great idea. I think you need to create flyers in addition to the email to remind students. There is a lot of paper wasted in IES each semester and this will be a great way to compensate for the amount of paper students print and waste each day.
88 seantubridyI can't stand the readers, so I doodle in them constantly. Should there be a screening process so that ruined readers are not kept? The readers are a waste of paper, and any ones that are in good condition should be kept for the following semester. Great job on the research and content
95 SolomonBPBrian, the SC is sponsoring an end of the year pizza and recycling of the reader party. It'd be great if we/I could get your help with organizing and cleaning up the event. That would be really huge, so far it's just me setting it up. IES administration has agreed to purchase pizza and refreshments, and we are going to make an event/party of recycling the readers. On the day of the event, all the necessary recycling bins will be out on the terrace, along with scissors and pizza. Students will be instructed on how to dispatch their readers, and then where to properly recycle them; all while enjoying free pizza. Any help you were able to offer in helping advertise and organize the event would be awesome.
91 steph.eastlakeThis is a great idea for IES sustainability. Printing out all those pages for the readers each semester and then just throwing them away is really bad for the environment and easily avoidable.
91 vsienkieThis is a great idea and I think it is a wonderful way to save paper. I know that most students would love to save money on their readers. I do not think this should be mandatory because I know some students need their readers to bring back to their home universities in order to recieve credit for their classes.
88 vydraI think that this is a fantastic action plan. There is no reason why IES should not recycle these readers. I'm not sure how many readers will be able to be used in following semesters, so at least the readers should all be recycled if they cannot be reused.

 Grades for this action report (From the PROFESSOR)

Items found: 2
2.18 Recycling Textbooks - Brian McNevin Good The reference to that EU study which showed real data of biodegradable waste produced in Catalonia. Overall idea (of promoting the reuse of readers). 1.3.8. Good election of copyright license. Improvable Adapt the title: your action is not only about recycling, but about reusing them as much as possible, and recycling the sheets of paper of those readings phased out. Why not something in the line of "Reusing and Recycling Textbooks"? 1.2. & 1.2.2 "There is also a reinforcing feedback loop in regards to this action. Collecting the readers will allow for IES to re-distribute them to future students, which saves paper and money, causing IES to collect the readers again. " This is not a proper loop: what's the connection between IES (Abroad Barcelona staff) saving paper and money, and then IES Faculty (different human beings) collect the readers again?. So far and as far as I know, your action requires that Faculty adapts their readers to ease this task, 1.2.1. & 1.3.6. Much better if each faculty member is in charge of collecting their own readers, and, with the help of their own (old or new) students, remove the deprecated readings, and reorganize whatever is needed, and insert the appropriate readings in place. This would be much faster, and better handled with care, since each student would be handling his/her own reader, etc. For this process to success, one option is to have binders to keep the readings in, so that it's easier to move them around, put some in and out, etc. 1.2.3. Potential benefits "- Time for staff to do other things " I'm afraid that it's the opposite. Ask anyone from the staff academics who is in charge of ordering and managing the readers every semesters, so that you can get feedback from this person on your sections 1.2.x, at least. 1.2.4. Potential costs: Binders, and "hole-maker" for sheets of paper (I don't know the English name of it). 1.3. "Recently, I have spoken with Ferran, who has agreed to email faculty members to see if they would not object to this action. Assuming I will have the go-ahead to proceed, I will then email all students at IES after the holiday break, informing them that during the week of finals (May 1 - May 6), there will be bins throughout the IES Center available for them to drop the readers that they are finished with. IES will then store the readers throughout the summer and redistribute them upon the arrival of next semesters students. " This is not enough, if professors dont' adapt their readers and agree with your design. Improve this. And an easier approach from the logistic point of view, might be to request students to deliver their readers back at the end of the semester, the day of the final exam of each course, instead of request them to place them in some common bins: Your email: "Throwing your readers out at the end of the semester? A better option is to place them in the bins provided for IES for future use. (...) It is a great way to save IES time throughout the summer and help our planet! " 1.3.2. Question: "Do you think that students would place their readers in designated recycling bins at the end of the semester or not? " This question is useless for a survey. You should ask their individual plan, not their opinion on what most students would do. I already pointed this out in the assignment about the SWOT analysis, but I see that you didn't improve this or discuss this here in your final report. 1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey: "According to the survey, approximately 3 out of 4 students would agree to put their readers in recycling bins for reuse by future students. " Wrong interpretation of the results. See previous comment on 1.3.2. 1.3.5. "even if it be posting fliers in the IES Center or sending emails to students. " Design the flyer and Write the message yourself, so that others only need to send what you prepared. 1.3.7. "The email that will be sent to students was created using using Microsoft with a .docx format. " Much better for readability, bandwidth efficiency and speed is to send the message directly in html from your email program. Or using pdf or similar, but not editable formats such as doc or docx. 1.4. Update it and revise it based on 2011a General comments 1.5. Revise it based on 2011a General comments 1.6. Clean leftovers for earlier versions of your page. Pictures of the bins once placed on IES?
"There is also a balancing feedback loop in regards to this action. Collecting and reordering the readers to distribute to later students means less paper and money, causing IES to collect the readers again. " Not clear why less paper and money would cause IES to collect the readers again (students from next semester could pay as usual for new readers, etc). "IES collects readers to redistribute -> Less paper and money -> IES collects readers again (This is a balancing loop because collecting the readers for future students means less wasted paper and money, which encourages IES to continue to collect the readers." This is not balancing but reinforcing. Re-read notes about those concepts. How long did it take to disassemble readers? How many people attended? What was the cost of pizzas per student attending? A pity you didn't add this information, since it would be useful for students in next semesters. Picture would have been very adequate here also. (as a comment or sent to the professor) 4th ref. what does it mean?: ". .populationeducation.org>.eea.europa.eu>.resourcesnotwaste.org>.environment.gov.au>" 2nd

Page last modified on Thursday 28 of April, 2011 22:03:08