Design For Sustainable Consumption
The Project Outline:
In 1955, plastic became an indispensable material in people’s lives, just five years after the mass production.
A few years later, Kenyon and Kridler already found plastic waste within marine animals’ bodies, and plastic pollution has been identified as a critical ecology issue.
Today, new policies are restricting the usage of plastic.
And new materials are replacing oil-based plastic.
However, many solutions bring problems themself. Bioplastic can only be biodegraded in a specific environment, and recycled plastic will reach its reuse limits after a few times.
According to Green Peace, the UK has generated the second most plastic waste per person globally.
The dreadful facts push us to ask ourselves how can data and design make things better? This question set the tone of our project.
We began our field research by identifying our target users’ consumption and waste management behaviour. Trying to answer what drives our users ‘contributing’ to the issues. Most participants showed they are aware of being more sustainable by using less plastic. However, they are not trying very hard to do it in real life because, as students, they care more about how to live with less money instead of how 'green' they can be.
After we know what our users do, why they do it, and what drives the problem, we want to know what they think, dream, and feel personally meaningful, which could potentially inspire us for innovative solutions. This stage should help us identify design opportunities and our user’s persona from an empathetic approach. Therefore, we decided to use cultural probes, which give users more time to have a deeper reflection on themselves. The result of the cultural probes is significant. We received many exciting thoughts and ideas from the participants. Most participants showed they are aware of being more sustainable by using less plastic. However, they are not trying very hard to do it in real life because they believe new technology will solve the problem in the future.
Their characteristics were extracted and summarized into three user personas.
We picked Molly to be our end-user because her persona is the one that covers most of our research participants and has the highest potential to make a change. The user group Molly represents are aware that they should use less plastic, but not try hard enough to do it in real life because she prioritises convenience and price in life and considers her individual impact trivial. For her, environmental problems are for scientists to solve.
We realise it is critical to building something that can raise users' awareness and drive them going. Through our research, we notice the end-users behaviours could be altered by what they value. In our case, the users value money and convenience. Therefore, we had the initial concept of EasyGreen, which aims to help users to reduce plastic consumption by using a digital currency generated through people’s plastic consumption behaviours.
We choose an app because it has a less negative impact on the environment in its life circle and is embedded deeper into our user’s life, it provides a convenient experience which the user values.
User Testing & Concept Refinement
Before we had our outcome, we did a few rounds of user testing to ensure that all the changes could provide a straightforward experience to our users. We used a low fidelity prototype and set up an individual feedback section for the participant so they could feel comfortable enough to point out problems. We also had a digital prototype for more engaging testing. The user testing section allows us to refine our idea and approach our outcome critically.