This project began as an investigation into how to make climate change important to people. I wanted to understand how our relationship with food was affecting the planet, uncover our emotional barriers to sustainable living, and design a way to make people change their behavior.
Research entailed developing an in-depth interview protocol and using exercises to understand users' emotional links to health, diet, and the environment. The goal of the protocol was to funnel from questions about broad subjects to relevant, specific questions in a way that encouraged honest, detailed answers and put the interviewee at ease. Common themes revealed valuing healthiness and flavor in food, and lack of urgency to eat in a more sustainable way. This lack of urgency stemmed from feeling stifled by the scale of the problem of climate change, and feeling they could make no impact.
Research into industrial farming, the meat industry, and their environmental impact revealed that a local, plant based, organic diet considerably lowers one's carbon footprint, in addition to risk for many common diseases such as Diabetes and Heart Disease.
Eating all locally grown food for one year could save the greenhouse gas equivalent of driving 1,000 miles.
Meat products have larger carbon footprints per calorie than grain or vegetable products because of the inefficient transformation of plant energy to animal energy.
A vegetarian diet greatly reduces an individual’s carbon footprint, but switching to less carbon intensive meats can have a major impact as well.
Organic food typically requires 30-50% less energy during production.
Due to interviewees expressing a lack of knowledge about the association between food and climate change, I considered designing an awareness campaign to broadcast information about our environmental impact. I observed reactions to a range of existing awareness campaigns on varying subjects to understand the emotional connections to and longevity of different messaging strategies. Participant feedback showed negative emotions surrounding verbal and visual scare tactics. They appreciated interactive solutions and some kind of more personal, immediate incentive for behavior change, other than helping climate change.
In order to move forward into analysis, it was important to visualize the problems / needs and the values / aspirations found during research. User problems and needs were a lack of urgency, fear of the size of the problem of climate change, no motivation to change their behavior, and the longevity of new habits if they did choose to change. Values included their health, the flavor of their food, caring about the environment, feeling part of a whole to achieve effectiveness, and interactive solutions.
Awareness is important, but it isn’t enough to motivate.
People don’t like having problems put in their faces.
They want to see immediate, personal incentives and want
to experience an accessible, interactive solution.
How can we make solutions to climate change more accessible by offering a platform for discovery of healthy, flavorful, and sustainable food options in a way that makes people feel excited and empowered?
I did many iterations of website layouts, taglines, and logos before determining an aesthetic direction. I wanted to see the different possible ways of communicating my ideas through photos and text before adding the relevant information. After determining a visual direction, I ideated what I would need to include on the pages of the platform, and how I would communicate statements, ideas and information in a logical, exciting succession.
The name “Real” was the most fitting choice. I wanted to communicate the simplicity of the mission of the platform, to connect people with real food. It simultaneous begs the question of the viewer - “If this is real food, what was I eating before?” The tagline, “Food. for good.” aims to communicate two things. Firstly, that this is food that is good for you, the world, and to eat. Secondly, that there is a longevity to this way of eating. I wanted to stress the permanence of changing to a better way of doing food. This is real food, for good.