Lead Applicants: Natalie O’Byrne, Suzanne Buckley (UCC International Office)
Partner Organisations: CARL, UCC.
Solving a Real Life Problem:
In today’s world of consumerism and disposable fashion there is a growing waste mountain. In UCC International Office we witness this first hand annually. Twice yearly visiting international students who stay for just one semester, produce unwarranted waste. On arrival students purchase duvets, pillows, cosmetics, toiletries, canned food, rain gear, towels, bed linen, stationary, storage boxes, travel books, etc. Given airport security measures and suitcase weight restrictions, after just 15 short weeks of use many items go to landfill, when students return home.
Inspired by UCC’s commitments to the sustainable agenda, outlined in UCC Sustainability Strategy, Natalie O’ Byrne initiated “Swap Shop”. The project meets several objectives – reduce waste, reuse, recycle and repurpose not to mention helping students who may be under pressure financially.
Homebound students were invited to donate unwanted items destined for the rubbish tip, which would be offered to incoming international students in the second semester. The pilot was highly successful and very well received by both incoming and outgoing international students as well as accommodation providers who are often responsible for disposing of waste.
Partnership with key stakeholders/disciplinary/sectoral boundaries:
This was a collaborative effort, first and foremost amongst staff and students, but also within the wider community of accommodation providers. Additionally, international students returned to their home universities promising to promote the concept at home, thereby ensuring we had some global reach and influence with our sustainability agenda.
We will impact on sustainability by upscaling “Swap Shop”, from local UCC International Office, to University wide, community wide and beyond. In doing so we will deliver on UCC’s sustainability strategy and the HEI’s education for sustainability agenda.
In the long term we believe “Swap Shop” will become self-sustaining through donations, involvement of student societies such as the Green Society and possible accreditation for students through UCC Works Programme. Any income generated would be reinvested in sustainable projects. E.g. community garden.