Enabling Sustainable Consumption Through User-Centered Design: An Approach

By Maria Alejandra Moreno, Vicky Lofthouse and Debra Lilley.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Although the increased levels of consumption, driven by business, have both a direct and indirect impact on the environment, and do not contribute to our overall wellbeing, business can positively influence consumption by motivating consumers to purchase and use more sustainable solutions.
An extensive literature review identified that sustainable consumption requires changes at a ‘systems level’ incorporating issues such as consumption habits, attitudes, behaviours, lifestyles, and the way in which goods and services are delivered. Additionally, User-centred design (UCD), which can be interpreted in many different ways, offers clear benefits in supporting sustainable consumption. However, there are currently no mechanisms to help businesses to apply these approaches at a ‘systems level’ to enable sustainable consumption.
A prototype framework, which aims to help businesses to understand how UCD can be used to enhance sustainable consumption, is presented. The framework is built on findings from the literature, semi-structured interviews with experts, a workshop and a document analysis. Future work will see the framework developed and tested to identify whether it is replicable in different business contexts.

Keywords: Sustainable Consumption, User-centred Design, Business Strategy

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.707-722. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.576MB).

Maria Alejandra Moreno

PhD Research Student, School of Design, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK

Maria Alejandra is a PhD student looking at the strategic vision of businesses and their potential to achieve technological, social and cultural innovations by focusing on user design orientation and communication strategies to enable more sustainable patterns of consumption. Mariale is an Industrial Designer and she did a MSc. in Innovation and Design for Sustainability, as she got very interested on how Design for Sustainability can lead to more innovative products, services and systems. Before her MSc she worked on an NGO, which guides SME’s mostly in rural communities to commercialize their products in real markets. She was in charge of implementing design methodologies to innovate in their products. In her experience, she learned that is essential to encourage more sustainable consumption without forgetting the consumer habits and needs, and she believes that businesses have the force to influence on those consumer habits by achieving further innovations.

Vicky Lofthouse

Loughborough University

Dr. Vicky Lofthouse graduated from Loughborough University with a 1st Class Honours in Industrial Design, she then worked as a designer for the multidisciplinary design consultancy Johnson Haigh Rogers for 2 years. In 2001 Vicky completed her PhD in eco-design at Cranfield University. Since this time she has engaged in research and consultancy in the fields of eco-design and sustainability. Her research interests include: how to engage designers in sustainability; improving the environmental and social performance of products, services and packaging; and using creativity to develop innovative solutions. Vicky has worked with multidisciplinary teams in companies such as AB Electrolux, DCA Design International, TheOneOff, Capital Standards, Giraffe Innovation/ RSA, Practical Action, GlaxoSmithKline, Huntleigh, Acordis, Jaeger and The Boots Company across a wide range of sectors - print, packaging, interiors, textiles, consumer electronics, and medical. Outcomes include: developing and adapting eco-design tools; integrating sustainable design thinking into live projects; developing conceptual product/packaging scenarios; understanding the consumer through the use of empathic design techniques; innovative concepts for consumer oriented refillable packaging; developing educational material for the RSA WEEE man project. Vicky runs the UK based Sustainable Design Network which brings together over 230 like minded people from Industry, Academia and Public Bodies.

Debra Lilley

Lecturer, Loughborough University

Dr. Debra Lilley is a Lecturer in Sustainable Design at Loughborough University. She has been actively involved in the field of Sustainable Design since 2002. She holds a Masters of Research in Manufacturing, Sustainability and Design, a PhD in Design for Sustainable Behaviour and is the author of Design-Behaviour, a web-based resource supporting academics and practitioners in exploring how design could facilitate a reduction in the environmental and social impact of goods through moderating the way in which users interact with them. Prior to working in academia, she held positions as a Workplace Consultant and Sustainability Policy Assistant. Her core research interests lie in identifying behavioural and psychological drivers for consumption; design for sustainable behaviour, ethics, e-learning and sustainable design education.


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