with Next Nature Network
Research has shown that while many people are willing to perform sustainable behaviour, a lot of good behaviour quickly wears off as it is hard to quickly see the impact of sustainable actions. People then drop out or quickly go back to old behaviours. To make sure that users of the ECO coin would be more intrinsically motivated, we set up a future scenario to make the future of sustainability more tangible.
Over the course of a year, we have been experimenting with showing people what kind of impact they could have when they perform actions with the ECO coin. We did this in two places, at the headquarters of L’Oréal Netherlands and at the TU/e campus in the department of Industrial Design. We crafted the ECO village, which is a fictional community that rapidly grows as participants perform actions with the ECO coin. It was used alongside the ECO coin as a reward for sustainable behaviour. Different future technologies were introduced over time to make users aware of the future scenario. Travelling by public transport in everyday life means the ECO village will receive autonomous cars or modular trains. Saving energy leads to solar panels and windmills being installed in the ECO village. New technologies are introduced in the ECO village every day as it rapidly progresses into the future.
ECO coin x L’Oréal
At L’Oréal, we did a big trial with 250 people signing up for the ECO coin in total. This trial lasted one month, during which the majority of their employees fanatically earned ECO coins. Nearly 5000 actions were performed in total! One big scale model, which showed the neighbourhood around L’Oréal’s office was present in the canteen and was updated once every week, based on the actions of all the employees together. The employees liked seeing the landscape change and improve, but found it hard to distinguish the exact impact that their personal actions had.
Next to the model, we also invited the employees to think about what the future of the ECO coin might be like by introducing dilemmas about the ECO coin. An example of such a dilemma was whether airline companies should be allowed to join the ECO coin network or whether the ECO coin reward of actions should be different in different locations. These dilemmas rose several arguments about how the ECO coin might be implemented on a global scale, such as that “rewards are different in countries, just like salaries, so they should be aligned with the purchase power”.
ECO coin x TU/e
When we came back from L’Oréal, we took our ideas back to the drawing board to improve the ECO village experience. We particularly focussed on adding a personal perspective and improving the visibility of individual impact in the scale model. We then did a two-week trial with three groups of staff and students at Eindhoven University of Technology in the department of Industrial Design. The groups were small, with only three or four users per group. Each group received their own small-scale model and every member of the group was responsible for one quarter of the landscape. The elements they received were based on their individual actions, and instead of once every week they received elements daily through a fictional ‘drone delivery’. In this case the users could place their own parts in their landscape. The model could also be scanned in an AR app for extra insight into the technologies and the inhabitants of the future village.
The participants at the TU/e said that they very much enjoyed getting this story as a reward for their actions. It even motivated them more than the fact that they could spend their coins in some cases: “Having a kind of possible ethical implications being the reward to me feels nicer as a whole than getting a thing”. They even wanted to use their ECO coins to buy more tiny trees to decorate their landscapes! While they did not like the AR as a medium so much, they liked “the personal scenario because you already get the information and then it’s nice to have a human perspective instead of something very abstract”.
Could we use speculative fiction to stimulate even more sustainable actions? Can we up-scale the ECO village experience or make it virtual to reach people all around the world?
This project was my MSc graduation project in the department of Industrial Design at Eindhoven University of Technology. During this project I was supervised by Saskia Bakker (TU/e), Bart Hengeveld (TU/e), Lewis Just (Next Nature Network) and Koert van Mensvoort (TU/e and Next Nature Network).