Reusable IES Waterbottles

1. Action: Reusable IES Waterbottles (Annie Barkley, Lauren Martin, Micaela Gonzalez, William)

1.1. What

This action is simply finding a way to provide durable, chemical free reusable water bottles to IES students. Our goal is to decrease the issue of constant use of plastic water bottles since they are harmful to the environment, while also saving money in the long term for students. We would implement this action by talking to the administraion of IES, in hopes of adding a checkbox or order form on the website for predeparture. If a student checks the box or fills out the order form, IES would order the student a water bottle and add the cost to the total bill for the end of the semester. When the student arrives in Barcelona, a water bottle would be waiting for them to ensure they avoid plastic water bottle use and, in turn, save hundreds of dollars for each student. In addition to the check box or order form, an educational paragraph would be included to explain the environmental and economic benefits of a resuable water bottle. It would also encourage students to bring their own if they already own one. The ultimate goal is to successfully and cost-effectively get students using reusable water bottles to reduce the waste in the IES center.

1.1.1. Similar actions form previous semesters

A similar action plan was written last semester - they had an idea to use reusable water bottles for IES students as well. However, they proposed that IES pays for them. We thought that this may be difficult to entice IES to supply water bottles for the entire program, as well as students who may not be interested, or have their own. By giving the students the option to add an additional charge to their total IES Abroad expenses IES can not only avoid buying too many reusable water bottles in comparison to the amount of students interested, but it shows IES is invested in a sustainable lifestyle. By providing such an easy and affordable way to order a reusable water bottle, students will see the benefit in buying one instead of spending money each time they want water. We found that much of our objectives and sustainable intentions were similar to the previous reusable water bottle action. Since IES still had not implemented the action plan from last semester, we believed it would be more feasible for students to pay for their own water bottles.

1.1.2. SWOT Analysis

-Significantly dcereases amount of plastic being wasted
-Will be much more affordable to the students
-Saves the students time as well because now they don't have to go out and buy a water bottle every day
-Shows that IES supports students in financial aspect, as well as helping the environment
-Provides an easy system of demand and supply of reusable water bottles, no extra cost to IES for students who do not sign up for a water bottle

-Cost of water bottle may be higher than if the student is to seek their own
-Possible negative environmental effects of making the water bottle

-Can save students hundreds of dollars throughout the course of the semester
-Gives incentives for students to help preserve natural resources
-Can get students in the habit of using reusable materials (environmentally friendly mindset)
-Creates the possibility to establish a relationship between IES and the water bottle manufacturer

-Students may prefer bottled water
-IES may decide not to follow through with providing a check box, and additional cost, and the order process of the water bottles

1.1.3. Feedback loops

Reinforcing loop
Students obtain a sturdy, chemical free reusable water bottle that they can use every day. This continual habit breaks the trend of buying plastic water bottles every day that creates waste.

Balancing loop
Create incentive for students to take care of their water bottles by providing the financial information of how much money they are saving by using the bottle and promote the idea of returning to the States with the bottle and continuing the action there so produce less waste.

1.1.4. Advertising

Our action will be advertised on the IES website, in addition to in the admitted students pre-departure page. It will include information about our action and will educate future IES Barcelona students about reusable waterbottles. It will hopefully bring attention to the issue and make them more aware of the environmental and economical cost of plastic water bottles.

Dear upcoming IES Barcelona students,
We would like to inform you about our reusable water bottle proposal. Many students are unaware upon arrival that water is not free in Barcelona. Each time water is ordered in a restaurant, students may be charged anywhere from 1-3 dollars (in euros). In order to avoid this ongoing expense throughout the semester, IES will be selling Reusable water bottles during orientation week. Please indicate whether or not you are interested in buying a water bottle in order to save anywhere from 1-300 dollars throughout the semester on water. The price of reusable waterbottles will be around 3 euros, and IES has offered to pay the rest in order to support a sustainable environment here in Barcelona. Please be sure to let us know if you will be purchasing a bottle so that we may order the right amount of bottles ahead of time. Thank you for your time, and we look forward to seeing you soon in Barcelona!

Posters regarding the safety of tap water shall also be put near every water fountain in IES. This can help avoid the confusion of the purity of tap water in Barcelona, so that students won't hesitate to drink tap water here.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable?

  • Change in Attitudes

The use of reusable bottles would change attitudes of IES students about constant consumption of plastic bottles.
Changes the habit of young people thinking “in the moment” and illuminates need for long term thinking.

  • Reducing dependency on...

Reusable water bottles reduces dependency on plastic bottles, disposable things, and water that is said to often be less regulated than tap.

  • Ecological/Water footprints

This would reduce our use of plastic around the center that has harmful chemicals and toxins for all humans, especially when the plastic is reused many times.
Reusable bottle usage would also reduce waste and consumption habits resulting from these plastic bottles that go to the landfills (harmful to environment) and recycling (which isn’t deep enough solution).

  • Long term effects

Water bottles would hopefully be used by these students during their time abroad and then then when they return to their home universities (until they can no longer adequately store water) and then would become waste AKA food for something else or for a new water bottle.

  • "Cradle to cradle" design (Waste = Food)

See “Long term effects” above

  • Eco-effectiveness (vs. Eco-efficiency)

Recycling plastic water bottles can be seen as eco-efficiency because it is better than the garbage but does nothing to solve the underlying issue of mass consumption and use of resources. Reusable cradle to cradle design can be seen as eco-effectiveness because it affects and changes the real issue; over consumption.

1.2.1. Potential Benefits

The use of reusable water bottles will save students money by eliminating the need to purchase bottled water throughout the semester. This would decrease their ecological footprint because students will not be using plastic to buy a new water bottles sold in restaurants or by the street vendors.

1.2.2. Potential Costs

The expenses of the reusable water bottles are open for discussion, but ultimately were intended to be payed for by the students. We have spoken with Cesar and have decided a compromise would be best. IES students will be asked to paid anywhere from 1-4 euros, and IES can pay for the remaining cost per water bottle. We have found a company that sells bottles for the following prices:
48-95 (water bottles) = $7.00
96-143 (water bottles) = $6.80
144-287 (water bottles) = $6.30
288-575(water bottles) = $5.90
576 +(water bottles) = $5.50

We will discuss the pricing system with IES Barcelona, and decide how much IES can afford to put forth. Whatever we decide on, we feel that students will find paying a few euros once for a water bottle that can be reused their entire semester, as well as back home, is worth the price in comparison to the amount of money spent on water in restaurants each day.
The website for the company previously mentioned is listed below:
While we understand the company is based in Washington, which means the external costs of transport is not ideal, but we could not locate any companies within Barcelona through the internet, so the next best option to make implementation possible, until a company within Spain is found, is to use the Washington company that gaurentees environmental and human friendly bottles.

1.3. How

This project has been attempted in years past with reasonable success. Past groups have talked with IES, specifically Cesar about pricing. Our plan is to work off the foundation of past groups and take the project one step further- purchasing the water bottles for student use.

1.3.1. "Cradle to Cradle" design

Our action, if implemented correctly after we leave, would be designed for “Cradle to Cradle.” The water bottle we have found is durable so that it lasts a long time and is chemical free, as to avoid harmful health problems for its user and to make it clean “food” for other processes.
The company states that the bottles are
"Reusable, non-leaching, lightweight and toxin free." It is made of electropolished stainless steel" which is "sustainable and toxin free." The electropolished stainless steel is "made of 100% recycled, high quality, 18/8 food grade stainless steel, so it does not need a special lining like some other metal bottles."
The benefits of electropolished stainless steel are lower rates of bacterial growth in food industry applications" and "improved life has resulted where stainless steel has been electropolished." Stainless steel itself is a good choice because it is a neutral metal and doesn't leach - that's why silverware and cookware are made of steel. Aluminum bottles need to be lined to prevent the metal from leaching into your water (may be harmful) and imparting a taste.
This way, with a chemical free bottle, when the water bottle has reached the end of its life (which is hopefully many years later), it can be used as food (for the technical world) to create something else and nothing is wasted. It would be nice if the water bottles could be downcycled into a new bottle, or upcycled into something else that uses the same metal. If the metal could be reused, time after time, "cradle to cradle" design is ensured and there are less chemicals being used due to the process of reuse. More research would need to be done to find a company who would do the up/down/re-cycling, but it would be a nice touch, if possible. The cardboard that the water bottles arrive to the IES center in would be recycled or reused for another purpose around the center like collection of reusable paper, glass bottles, etc. These boxes could even be the boxes used by the group looking to collect electronics upon departure from IES Barcelona.
Any student who did not want to take their bottle home to the U.S. would also be encouraged to leave their bottle so someone else could reuse it, also promoting "cradle to cradle", verse "cradle to grave" if the bottle were just thrown out.

1.3.2. Incentives

We are in Barcelona for about 108 days. Some students here buy a water bottle every day, sometimes even two times a day. Even if they bought the cheapest bottle everday, which is not always possible, that is approximately $150 US dollars. Even if a student only buys a water bottle once a week for every week they are here, that is 15 water bottles and is anywhere from $20 to $62 US dollars depending on the price from 1 euro to 3 euro. Not everyone has joined in the environmental movement, but there seems to be no greater motivation for a large population than money saving techniques. A reusable water bottle can cost as little as $10 US dollars, and therefore, creates an incentive to buy a reusable water bottle, use it, and take care of it.

Some students question drinking tap water because they view drinking bottled water as more "pure" with labels advertising "spring water" or "glacier water." However, researchers have conducted studies in which they found on average, more than 25% of bottled water comes from municipal supplies. In a study done by the National Research Defense Council, they "tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of water... the organization found that at least one sample of a third of the brands contained bacterial or chemical contaminants, including carcinogens, in levels exceeding state or industry standards." So while yes, bottled water is generally safer than tap water, it is not as beneficial as it may seem. If we can spread the word about the minimal differences between bottled and tap water, and how tap water may even be safer than bottled water, this may persuade students to drink tap water even more.
(See link in references)

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

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

If everything goes as planned and it is implemented the way we would like it to be, no other students have to sustain it over time. Someone in IES will just have to order the number of water bottles each semester based on how many students purchase through the website.

1.3.5. Who will do what

We want to work extensively with Cesar and IES staff, as they are the people we received support from to achieve our objective. With Cesar's approval, we can purchase the waterbottles and begin the process of how to distribute/sell them to the students. We have talked with Caterina Gangale at the front desk to talk about who would physically order the water bottles and she said she has done ordering of merchandise in the past.

1.3.6. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

This action was proposed in previous semesters, but the cost of reusable water bottles was asked to be paid by IES. Our proposal is that IES provides students with an option to order the provided reusable water bottles, which will be given to them at orientation. IES students interested in these water bottles will be expected to pay for them at orientation in order to receive them. We have also discussed with Cesar possibly having IES pay for some of the expense, but is still open to discussion on how much IES will pay for. A rough idea would be that IES pay for half of each water bottle, meaning each student will pay roughly 3 euros per bottle. This is still open for discussion since our initial intentions was for the students to pay the whole price.

1.3.7. Document format

We choose CC-BY, which would mean that licensees could copy, display, or alter the work as long as they give the authors the credits. This would be a more sustainable paper because then people can continue to add their feedback and thoughts, which could improve our idea more, enabling it to evolve. By being able to distribute our action plan, maybe it would inspire other programs or schools to try to get reusable water bottles as well.

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

11/3/2011- email Cesar Alegre to propose plan
11/10/2011-Meeting with Cesar
11/?/2011- create blurb for website
11/?/2011- check on website update

Tap vs Bottled Water

1.6. Annexes

1.7. Students involved in this action

Lauren Martin:
Feeback loops
How action is sustainable
Cradle to Cradle Design

Annie Barkley:
SWOT Analysis
Similar Actions from Previous Semester
Potential Benefits
Incentives (along with Lauren)
Copyright License of Your Report

Micaela Gonzalez:
All other points

William Thompson- Final editing
Contributed to: Once a connection with a water bottle supplier is made and a price point is set, the only thing groups in the future will have to do is order and facilitate the distribution of waterbottles to IES students.

Page last modified on Monday 03 of November, 2014 19:16:16