Enabling Sustainable Consumption Through User-Centered Design: An Approach
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.
||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).
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.
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
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.
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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