- Tap Your Water -
Researching and understanding the relationships between tap and bottled water consumption to develop a method and offer context-related solutions to fight plastic. In the context of the Workshop, our team has decided to focus on UNIGE.
...encouraging the implementation of infrastructures and offering relevant informations for behavioral changes.
Today, the University of Geneva...
...tomorrow, who knows ?
By focusing on the University of Geneva and, to a lesser extent, on the University of Tsinghua, we are developing an approach to offer localized solutions related to tap water consumption in order to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottled water.
Here are the five IHDS students working on this project :
Sociology - Philosophy Of Social Sciences
Social Practice Theory tries to understand consumption as embedded in social and material contexts, and accounts for habits and routines in its understanding how resources tied to consumption are linked to everyday life.
According to this theory, practices have three pillars: the body (teleoaffective structures), which includes cognitive processes and physical dispositions; the material world, which includes technology and infrastructure; and the social world, which includes norms, values and institutions (Sahakian & Wilhite, 2014).
--> We use this theory to understand why people drink water from plastic bottles and where to intervene so we can change this practice to a more sustainable one.
--> Individual behavior is not targeted but the broader social practice is. It is about giving people the opportunity to change their practice.
Plastic Pollution is a global problem, yes...
However, globalization does not mean space is homogeneous. Issues are interconnected but different places face different realities.
Too often, the spectres of telecommunication services and quick transportation - where they are available - claim to erase space.
No vision is neutral. No space is freed from visions. No vision is freed from space.
Critical Geography with an imaginative twist and the Power Geometry theory offer us the possibility to consider this and offer nuanced analysis.
This school of thoughts emerged in the 1970's in reaction to Positivist Geography. It is particularly interested in culture and representations and thus is used as an umbrella term for marxist, feminist, post-structural or queer geographies.
Gregogy, D., Johnston, R., Pratt, G., Watts, M., & Wattmore, S. (1981). Critical Human Geography. In The Dictionary of Human Geography (5th ed.).
"Feminist geographer Doreen Massey introduced the term “power geometry” to point to the ways in which spatiality and mobility are both shaped by and reproduce power differentials in society. Examples might include the control over distribution of goods and services, or the different circuits enabled by transportation systems" IGI-Global
--> Spatial analysis
--> Finding context-related solutions
In the last few years, plastic pollution has been under the spotlights in so-called developed countries. Documentaries and news stories have shown some realities of transnational waste (mis)management, its consequences on vulnerable populations and nature - and, to a slighter extent, the underlying power dynamics and hypocrisy.
Plastic. It has colonized our oceans, our beaches, our forests and our fields and it, has even colonized our bodies. Plastic. A global evil in a global era… whose Land is it really that is turned into a post-apocalyptic waste land ? Whose feet is it that walk those monstrous places ? Whose eyes is it that witness those toxic landscapes ? After we throw our waste in the right bin and it disappears forever from our minds, others end up dealing with it.
The power dynamics creating waste flows are rooted in Colonialism. Occupying Land to dump our trash is colonialist. Accusing the receiving countries incapabilities in the management of our pollution is colonialist.
"The field of discard studies is united by a critical framework that questions premises of what seems normal or given, and analyzes the wider role of society and culture, including social norms, economic systems, forms of labor, ideology, infrastructure, and power in definitions of, attitudes toward, behaviors around, and materialities of waste, broadly defined. As its starting point, discard studies holds that waste is not produced by individuals and is not automatically disgusting, harmful, or morally offensive, but that both the materials of discards and their meanings are part of wider sociocultural-economic systems. Our task is to interrogate these systems for how waste comes to be, and our work is often to offer critical alternatives to popular and normative notions of waste." from https://discardstudies.com/what-is-discard-studies/
--> Discard studies : trash flows and power dynamics behind them
“Innovation should be regarded as a social phenomenon, with a focus on the development and establishment of alternative social practices. Not as a term for specific objects, procedures or technologies that have pretence of novelty or superiority and are evaluated in terms of economic success. […] Social innovations are defined as alternative practices or new variations of practices which differ substantially from established or mainstream routines. Innovative practices do not necessarily need to be complete novelties.” (Jaeger-Erben, Rückert-John & Schäfer, 2015)
--> Innovation as one humble solution amongst other
Recycling is not the solution !
Wether you've heard of the three (or four) R's which are :
...for the sake of the planet, you better think them over !
The truth behind single-use plastic and recycling
In the United States before the 50's, reusable containers were the norm. When big companies like Coca-Cola realized they could cut the middle man and make more profit by selling their product in single-use containers (cans or plastic bottles), the whole system changes.
Thirty years later, pollution coming from these companies start appearing in landscapes. With the power of communication, they shift the blame to the consumer.
In the end, recycling is portrayed as the solution. Tax payers end up participating in the creation and maintenance of this industry.
For more informations we highly recommend you read the biting article "Eh bien recyclez maintenant" by Grégoire Chamayou, available at : https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2019/02/CHAMAYOU/59563
An empathetic approach
All of this explains why we believe people should not be shamed for the way they consume. We believe putting all the power in the consumer’s hand when it comes to saving the planet is a reducing view of the lobbying and power of private companies.
--> Recycling is not the ultimate solution
--> A critical approach to recycling
In this Log Book, you will finds some of our breakthroughs and our setbacks as well as some of the content created for our Instagram and Facebook pages and for our awareness-raising campaign.
Take a glass of wine, we sure could have used some. And some more.
Okay. We found it. We found what we'll be working on for the next few months.
It took us some time, some debates and some reading but we found our project and through this process, started the construction of our conceptual framework and of our standpoint.
PLASTIC BOTTLES AT UNIGE
It might not look very "sexy" for now but it seems more doable than developing an app to save whales or something.
And we will certainly benefit from the GTI initiative and Lisanne's contacts in Tsinghua to understand different contexts and make sure this "friends" she talks so much about are real.
We also really got to start exchanging with our mentor Julien. I wish I had more time to go into details. Anyway, see you next week
We quickly realized that a survey was going to be vital for our project. If we don't listen to what people have to say and how they are consuming then how could we possibly try to implement any change ?
The questionnaire was soon finalized and translated in french. There and then, Sári and I understood that if our english was mildly improving because of the Master, our level of french was declining dramatically.
As a few lab rats were needed to test the survey, we asked a few of the other students to give us their input in order to improve it. Fortunately, people still had dreams and gentle souls at that moment so there wasn't a lot of convincing or bribing to do.
Here we go! We have joined the insufferable community of people asking for signatures!
Tap Your Water now has an official facebook page (not that there was an officious one created by fans before that) ! Anyway we're ready to be supported by Facebook Moms
Check us out! : https://www.facebook.com/tapyourwater/
Sára truly is a master at communication! Give this girl a phone and she will get Obama's number in the minute. On a more serious note, we had a really encouraging talk with Susana Perdiz about the actual interest of UNIGE for sustainability. Moreover, we contacted Aurélie Kropf (head of Unige Déchet Valorisables) and Fabrice Calame (Sustainability Manager at Unige).
Other stuff that happened
There was a pitch-off with Barcelona students and we crushed them. In a friendly way.
Network and advances
Thanks to Charlotte, we were able to contact a primary school teacher and PhD Students, Zakaria Serir. His approach of education allows his students to learn about certain thematics which interest them and to do so in a very extensive way.
Tap Your Water will collaborate with Zakaria and his class to put what they will have learn about plastic pollution in practice. Tap Attack will then be a collaborative effort!
Other stakeholders were contacted like the students from the Master in Environmental Science who are also working on plastic in UNIGE.
The baby plastic monster
Lisanne and Francesco spent the day in the FabLab making prototypes for our future Plastic Monster with Jean-Marie. As Lisanne always says "If you're happy, I am happy", so we were happy for them. We are still working out the custody details though.
Oh, how young and naïve we were...
How care-free we acted...
To think a few days off meant we would rest.
In spite of a well deserved "week-off", Tap Your Water never rests !
After an eventful Blablacar trip from Paris, I finally arrived in Geneva. I ran nay...I flew to Uni-mail because to take our project to another level, Sári and I wanted to attend the Jinx workshop "Atelier sur la gestion de recherche financière" by Bjorg Balsinger.
We learnt a bunch of useful things concerning fundraising and the stakeholders to contact. More importantly, we bonded with Bjorg.
Network and advances
Oh...what a week !
Lisanne and Francesco met with Marlyne Sahakian, the teacher of the Sustainable Consumption course, to discuss the conceptual framework of the project. She supported our vision and advised to add semi-directed interviews in the project.
We followed with a meeting with Aurélie Kropf and Matthieu Petite. We talked about the project, about the University's progress in term of sustainability, its labyrinthine organization...It was an interesting insight for sure.
We decided to enjoy our presence at Uni-Mail to rent a space for our awareness-raising campaign. Done.
Then, not only GreenPeace answered us (and yes we did jump around and hug each other) but we also got to meet Giorgio Pauletto the Head of Innovation and Strategy at SIG thanks to Thomas.
Hidden in a little corner of the Hackathon happening in BioTech, we were able to whisper our project to him. Pauletto even broached the subject of a possible collaboration involving free reusable bottles and fountains.
On top of this, we started to work on the budget for the U-Change campaign !
Beware beware beauty gurus and professional memers ! Tap Your Water has now joined the Instagram machine and is ready to post mercilessly.
Check us out! https://www.instagram.com/tapyourwater/
Since spreading the survey seems more and more complicated due to some administrative obstacles, we have decided to take the road less travelled.
Ipad in hands, we went around on thursday morning and asked users to fill in our survey. We managed to reach more than 100 persons!
My personal strategy was to approach the smoking community since they couldn't really walk away.
In rewards for their efforts and to compensate my petty ways, we offered them cookies.
What really was interesting during this process is that we were able to actually discuss with people and get insights on their consumption ways. We also got a few instagram followers. And yes, it is as awkward and uncomfortable to ask people to follow us on social media as you might imagine.
The craziest adventure so far...
I will let you read it in the next window.
Networking and advances
One room to bring them all...and in sustainability bind them.
After more than one month of negotiation, we finally managed to bring the main stakeholders in one room at UNIGE. Well, kind of. The Lâche ton PET group was not present as a group and...wasn't really there per se since it was a video call.
In the end, we all got to introduce ourselves and talk about the survey as well as the striking conversations we had with some users. We talked about the provenance of reusable bottles, we discussed the students awareness about sustainability and also mentioned our possible collaboration with SIG which highly interested the Unige members if the picture they took of his contact is any indication.
During this meeting, it felt as though our work and what we could actually bring to the table was finally taken into consideration.
My fellow water tapper ended their day with another meeting with J'aime ma Planète this time. According to them, it was a nice chat about how to intervene in classrooms.
Some other stuffs that happened
I'll let you read about it in the window below...
Of Panic and Friendship
On the 18th of November, I went to the University of Geneva to attend a class about the kind of pitches judges were expecting at the "Concours de la Meilleure Idée". We, at Tap Your Water, had just registered a few days ago and were eager to participate.
After speaking to another zealous student, I realized to my horror that the concourse wasn't the next Tuesday but...after the pitch class. Lonely and terrified at the idea to pitch, I sent messages upon messages to my houmous eating colleagues who were relaxing at the Solution Space after a very long day of class.
Fortunately, my cries of help went through and soon the whole team was on its way to save me, updating me of their route with each tram station.
When the pitch class ended, my stress level was at the max.
When I went out in the dark corridors, my four of out of breath acolytes were running towards me.
Only a few times in my life have I ever felt this supported (sorry mum). We hugged and nervous laughed together.
Then we started preparing.
Fortunately, I wasn't the one pitching.
By an incredible tour de force, it all went well in the end.
Watch Maddalena save me and transport us to the 7th place : https://vimeo.com/376324416
Concours de la Meilleure Idée - 18th of November 2019
Networking and advances
TYP met Zakaria again to talk about our future intervention with his class and also the necessity to destroy capitalism.
We all went to the FabLab to make TYP t-shirt. Of course, we didn't go to H&m to buy black shirt beforehand. Sorry.
After that, we started working on printed cookies. They smelt and tasted particularly awful. But Jean-Marie didn't let that take him down. He was feeling inspired and when Jean-Marie is inspired, hide your vegetables. The apotheosis of our project may very well be the printed drawing of our faces on a pepper.
If you were given a t-shirt, forgot about it and someone more deserving took it, please consider taking advantage of New Year's Resolutions to be a bit more careful with gifts. And hearts.
After having pitched about a hundred times in and out of the Workshop (because we are dedicated like that), our final pitch still represented a challenge.
All of these weeks of hard work and coffee came down to this.
You can check the presentation of our last pitch here : https://prezi.com/p/uznoarqylm7-/?present=1
This is the end of the Workshop but we are not done. We will keep fighting for a plastic-free University in the next semester and we can't wait.
At first, this project was all about the credits. Until it wasn't.
*Slow clap of one tall Veja wearing member of the audience standing up gradually, followed by a thunder of applause *
We started occupying the wall of the Solution Space with some awareness-raising material.
You will find our beautiful creations hanging from the ceiling at the Solution Space and bombard you with plastic pollution facts.
Who we are and what we're doing.
While the others were at the meeting, I was crying on the keyboard while Charlotte was trying to teach us how to use ArcGis.
Given the pathetic "map" I ended up with, I would like to formally apologize to Charlotte and thank her for her efforts.
I don't remember how to open the program.
While we are all frenetically typing and loosing our minds on the report, we are also remembering the terribly formative and entertaining journey we were on during these long weeks.
Photo Credit : Nicolas (who said we were all ugly anyway).
I would like to thank everyone in the Tap Your Water project for their incessant motivation and dedication.
However, after having read the group's SDGinProgress, I would like to particularly emphasize the determinant role Maddalena played along the course of these weeks. She was a captain in a storm, a beacon in the night, a pot of ice-cream in a break-up.
Bref, Maddalena was the best process coach we could have had and we owe her for postponing everyone's mental breakdowns until after the report is due - so we can all cry in foetal positions in the privacy of our own homes during the holidays.
Thank you Maddalena!
We would like to thank Susana for her support and for believing in us.
Thank you Julien, Helen and Charlotte for being around and available. We greatly appreciated your surprising debates in the kitchen.
Thank you Louise for making us wake up on time and teaching us how to make nice-looking budgets.
Thank you to everyone who participated in any shape or form, to our project !