Principles of Green Design: Developing a Framework for Product Testing
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A problem exists that many eco-friendly products on the market today are not widely accepted by consumers. Three pilot experiments were conducted to examine a few causes of poor eco-friendly product acceptance. The first two experiments involved the testing of alternative products to disposable plastic water bottles. Two hypotheses were developed- the attitude hypothesis and the user activity hypothesis. The attitude hypothesis states that a person with a positive environmental attitude will lead to better eco-friendly product recommendation and rating, greater product uses, and a greater chance of continued use. The user activity hypothesis states that a product with difficult set-up or cleaning will lead to a worse product recommendation and rating, fewer product uses, and a smaller chance of continued use. Participants took home a product to test for one week and then returned to complete two surveys- a demographics survey and a product evaluation survey. These surveys measured variables such as environmental attitude, product recommendation and rating, number of uses, continued use, and many others. The results of the experiments show a relation between environmental attitude and the participants’ future usage with the eco-friendly product. In addition, the data shows that difficulty of product set-up and cleaning relate to the users’ opinion of the product. Since this methodology of testing has not been documented before, the lessons learned from these pilot experiments will help to develop a framework for product testing with human ubjects. The third pilot experiment tests the design method of defaults, which may be a powerful tool when designing eco-friendly products. The theory behind the default option is that people typically choose the default setting on a product, regardless if it is the best option. This theory was tested with the use of automatic paper towel dispensers. The lengths of the paper towels that the machines dispensed were changed periodically and the paper towel usage was measured. The results from this experiment indicate that users obey the rule of defaults, unless their needs are not being met at an extreme level.
Esposito, Nicole Elise (2012). Principles of Green Design: Developing a Framework for Product Testing. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from