Findings from December contextual interviews

During the last weeks of the semester, I interviewed 7 people: 3 women and 4 men, ages 23–33. You can read and see details about the interview setup here. After some evaluation, I became aware of 3 key themes:

Efficiency, or “not being wasteful,” is a key value for many individuals.

Drinking water, whether bottled or tap, is a habit that most people don’t think about.

People don’t do things primarily because they’re good for the environment—being eco-friendly is a secondary reason, or a bonus (if considered at all).

If you’re interested in the details, read on for what I found to be the most interesting questions and answers:

Why do people drink bottled water vs. tap water?

People drink bottled water for a variety of reasons—it’s a habit, it’s available, it tastes good, and one person said their water at home is unhealthy. But people who drink tap water were more unified in their answers. They drink it mainly because 1. it’s a habit (e.g. they grew up drinking it), and 2. it’s convenient. People who don’t drink bottled water do so because it’s expensive, and it’s “unnecessary.” These are reoccurring themes, so they are important to address in campaigns.

This individual doesn't like Brita because it "leaves carbon particles in water". Drinks bottled water now.

Why do people recycle?

4 participants responded with a variation on “it’s the right thing to do.” 2 other participants expressed feelings of guilt if they don’t recycle. This guilt comes from outside, from a person, or from “society.” And one person said it’s because it’s “mandatory.” So it seems that there are 3 types of reasons for recycling: altruistic reasons, guilt/social pressure, and regulation.

What was common for each person, however, is that recycling is a habit. It’s not something they usually think about.

Paper recycling

How do people define “something good for the environment”?

6 out of 7 participants said “conserving” (energy or materials) or “not wasting.” 3 people answered that it must be something “proactive” and 2 people said it should be “out of your normal routine.” It seems important for people to realize that daily actions can also be quite good for the environment, and can add up to make a big difference.

Why did the participants do “something good for the environment” recently?

Participants gave various answers, but the most popular were variations on: “I don’t want to waste,” “it’s easy,” and mentioning knowledge or education.

In addition, participants all mentioned something “normal” that they did. They “rarely” do something primarily because it’s good for the environment. This theme also came up during my journal activity.

From these interviews and from looking back at my journals, I have begun creating several personas, which will help inform my next prototype.

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