As mentioned previously, my sister has been working on her consumer ethics project which coincided well with my sustainability project. In fact, it was my conversations with her that lead me down the path to my proposal idea as it got me thinking about the way I shop.
From personal experience and from the market research information I have found on the internet (1) it suggests that there is a large gap between people’s intentions and behaviours when it comes to consuming ethically. Most consumers care about issues like the environment, human rights, fair trade and animal welfare and when asked hypothetically will make the right choice, but when it comes to our buying behaviour it become hard to follow through to consume more ethically as constraints such as availability, cost and competing discounted produces come into play.
Over recent years, consumers have become more aware (and therefore feel responsible) for the positive and negative impacts on the environment and society through consumption and purchasing. One term which sums it up well is “Conscious Consumption”.
Conscious Consuming is a social movement that based around increased awareness of the impact of purchasing decisions on the environment and the consumers health and life in general. (2)
What I like about the term conscious consumption is that it brings in the concept of being “social responsible”. We might think that one person cannot make a difference so why bother, but a conscious choice on every day purchasing makes an impact. Image is a whole community acted the same then the small decisions would combine to make a difference.
So, what about my project I hear you ask. Well, when I was at the Northside Farmer’s Markets for the first time, I was gifted with a free shopping bag. It was a very nice surprise and already I felt I was doing something good and I hadn’t even bought anything yet. After the markets I used it again later in the day when I went to pick a few other things at the supermarket. I thought to myself that I would take this bag instead of the normal Woolworths or Coles bags so that when people saw it, then maybe they would decide to head on over to the markets too.
Advertising is a strong tool and a powerful way to communicate to consumers, so if one generic bag could make me act in a more positive way, what would happen if there was a specially line of shopping bags that better informed consumers about their options and ethical consumption. So I was hooked on this idea.
I feel the main issue is how can I get consumers to make positive changes in buying habits if they don’t know how or have access to the information to make informed decisions. Therefore, I intend to create designs/ message based on stats or info graphics (easily understandable at a glance) that will influence buyer behaviour in a positive way and hopefully make them take action. The bag messages are not just for the consumers using the bag (which I hope to be able to give away for free if possible) but also for all the people who see them and therefore influence a wider audience.
Now that I have a concept my next post will be my finalised project proposal and how I address the following issues:
- Sustainable digital design
- Sustainable digital design
- John Thackara’s three-step methodology – map assets, connect locally and use new language