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Exploring the intersection of design, reflection and sustainable food shopping practices: The case of the EcoPanel
KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Media Technology and Interaction Design, MID. KTH, School of Computer Science and Communication (CSC), Centres, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Centres, Centre for Sustainable Communications, CESC.
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Food production has been shown to have considerable negative impacts on the environment. A means to reduce this is to choose organic products when shopping for food.

Through the case of the EcoPanel, a web application prototype that visualises the organic proportion of the household’s food shopping, the thesis explores the intersection between design, reflection and sustainable food shopping practices.

In order to contextualise the role of the EcoPanel, the text discusses the concept of food shopping practice, both from the perspective of social practice theory (SPT), and the more focused food choice perspective. The studies show that it is fundamental to understand the complexity of choosing food, and the habitual aspect of practice, in order to understand the role of reflection in food shopping practice, and consequently the role of a tool for reflective decision-making, like the EcoPanel.

We have used a research through design approach to develop the EcoPanel prototype. In an iterative process we probed how the EcoPanel could be designed to be as relevant and accessible for the users as possible. Essential in the process were the iterative user feedback sessions. The way in which the users answered the questions from the sessions formed the guiding principles for the development of the design.

A central question in the thesis is to explore in what ways the users’ access to their individual sustainable grocery data provided by the EcoPanel affects their food shopping practices. The studies include monitoring sixty-five users of the EcoPanel over five months, a survey regarding aspects of lifestyle and attitudes to food, and interviews with ten of the users.

The long-term study shows an increased organic purchase level (17%) for the EcoPanel users in comparison to the reference group. We also see that when the users receive feedback on their organic food purchases through the EcoPanel, they can make more reflective decisions. This is shown to be highly relevant and creates meaning for the users in several different ways. From this result, in combination with the result of the long-term study, we can conclude that the EcoPanel contributes with support for more sustainable food practices.

The last question in the thesis is to understand how SPT can be useful for design practice. SPT shows a view that goes beyond the traditional interaction perspective, and points to the importance of approaching complex issues, such as sustainability challenges, with an awareness that also includes social and cultural aspects of the context. As well as this view being pertinent when approaching sustainability issues, it also provides value to designers in their emerging roles of dealing with more socially embedded concerns, such as social innovation and design for public policies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal institute of technology , 2016. , x, 40 p.
TRITA-CSC-A, ISSN 1653-5723 ; 2016:04
Keyword [en]
Design, reflection, sustainable food shopping practices, social practice theory, research through design, web application prototype
National Category
Engineering and Technology Human Computer Interaction
Research subject
Human-computer Interaction
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-183422ISBN: 978-91-7595-875-0OAI: diva2:910961
2016-04-04, 4423, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 5, Stockholm, 14:41 (English)

QC 20160311

Available from: 2016-03-11 Created: 2016-03-10 Last updated: 2016-04-18Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. The EcoPanel: Designing for reflection on greener grocery shopping practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The EcoPanel: Designing for reflection on greener grocery shopping practices
2015 (English)In: PROCEEDINGS OF ENVIROINFO AND ICT FOR SUSTAINABILITY 2015, Atlantis Press , 2015, 221-228 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

While the purchases of organic food are increasing rapidly, it accounts for only a small fraction of the total consumption, and there is still a big gap between consumer values awareness and the actual consumption. This article explores how detailed personal feedback could help the households to gain insight and reflect on their consumption, the text presents the design process of developing a prototype, the EcoPanel, in collaboration with a major player on the food retail market. Based on the access to detailed tracking of purchase data, the aim of the design was to provide relevant feedback to facilitate for reflection on the user's own food choices. The design prototype is intended to serve as an instrument for insight and reflection and to bring unconscious aspects of grocery shopping to conscious awareness. Following a research through design approach, this article describes the interdependent steps in designing the EcoPanel and design decisions playing a role for users' critical reflection of their food choice practices. It discusses the intention of each module in providing insight. Finally, we discuss how a social practice perspective may be useful for identifying fruitful future research into the design for more sustainable grocery shopping practices

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Atlantis Press, 2015
, ACSR-Advances in Comptuer Science Research, ISSN 2352-538X ; 22
food, eco-feedback, HCI, sustainable practices, design, organic food
National Category
Human Computer Interaction
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-179626 (URN)000365044700026 ()978-94-62520-92-9 (ISBN)
Joint Conference on 29th International Conference on Informatics for Environmental Protection / 3rd International Conference on ICT for Sustainability (EnviroInfo and ICT4S), SEP 07-09, 2015, Univ Copenhagen, Copenhagen, DENMARK
D2S - From Data to Sustainable Practices

QC 20151218

Available from: 2015-12-18 Created: 2015-12-17 Last updated: 2016-03-11Bibliographically approved
2. Social practice theory and design as frameworks in understanding the emergence of sustainable food shopping practices
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social practice theory and design as frameworks in understanding the emergence of sustainable food shopping practices
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-183454 (URN)

QC 2016

Available from: 2016-03-11 Created: 2016-03-11 Last updated: 2016-03-11Bibliographically approved

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