7 behavioural UX approaches encouraging sustainable purchases

A review and summary of 7 behavioural UX approaches used to inform, enable, and encourage users to purchase planet-friendlier products

A finger touching an “Add to cart” button that is superimposed on an image of planet Earth
Photo of Earth by NASA on Unsplash

Changing behaviours is not easy.

But with the wasteful cycles of consumer products being responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the global population estimated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, we need to address our runaway consumption.

While the big changes we need—like government actions—are taking a long time to happen, UX designers can utilise behavioural design to inform and encourage people to make more sustainable online shopping choices.

Behavioural design uses a scientific and systematic understanding of human decision-making (Behavioural Science) to design products and experiences that influence people’s behaviour.

For decades, the commercial world has employed psychological, behavioural, emotional, and social interventions to influence consumers’ prioritisation of self over others and the environment.

However, a 2020 report, How sustainability is changing consumer preferences, by French consulting and digital transformation company Capgemini, reported 79% of consumers are changing their purchase preferences based on a business’s environmental friendliness, social responsibility, and economic inclusiveness.

But even with the increase in awareness and sustainable behaviour options, adhering to sustainable behaviour is necessary for it to succeed. Providing information and motivation for users to engage and adhere to sustainable behaviour is crucial to reducing the environmental and social impacts of mass consumerism.

Let’s see how behavioural UX is already employed for sustainable online shopping, and then we’ll summarise the strategies.

Zalando is a German online retailer of shoes, fashion and beauty products, with ‘49 million active users in 25 European markets’.

They have two key life-centred initiates — ‘do.more’ to transition to a circular fashion economy, and ‘do.better’ to foster diversity and inclusion. They’ve also defined their own product lifecycle metrics (see below), which they created by grouping existing standards and certifications. They designed icons for these. For any product that meets any of these standards or certifications, an icon is displayed on the product image, and more detail is given on the product page

The Zalando online store has been experimenting with enabling sustainable product choices for a while.

UX and behaviour change strategies

Scientifically determined product lifecycle metricsZalando uses existing standards and certifications as metrics for assessing the sustainability of products and grouped these into their own 10 metrics:

  • Designed for circularity
  • Improved production
  • Innovative materials
  • Organic materials (Organic materials and ingredients)
  • Recycled materials (Recycled materials and packaging)
  • Responsibly sourced materials
  • Responsibly sourced ingredients
  • Natural ingredients
  • Cruelty-free
  • Refillable

Bespoke sustainability icons—The metrics were translated into a bespoke range of ‘sustainability icons’ used to identify sustainable products.

Zalando’s 10 sustainability icons
Zalando’s sustainability icons

Product filtering — A sustainability filter in the viewing customisation UI allows users to view only products with any sustainability icon, or to get more granular and view products with particular sustainability aspects (Designed for circularity, Improved production, Organic materials, etc.)

The dropdown seems to display only the filter metrics specific to the product category being viewed (i.e. clothing categories don’t show “Responsibly sourced ingredients”).

These metrics specific to a product are represented by icons overlayed on the product image and are clickable to provide more detail.

Zalando’s sustainability filter
Zalando’s sustainability filter

Product labelling—Products that are labelled with a sustainability icon allow users to discover and choose more sustainable products

Products labelled with sustainability icons
Products labelled with sustainability icons

More detail on the product page — The sustainable products are linked to Zalando’s own defined sustainability metrics (see below). For any product that meets any of these standards or certifications, an icon is displayed on the product image, and more detail is given on the product page.

Zalando’s sustainability detail on the product page
Zalando’s sustainability detail on the product page

Clear proof of sustainable assessment — Zalando declare “How we know” the legitimacy of a product’s claim by relating it to a certification or standard. For example, their reasoning might be “the brand declared use of Cradle to Cradle Certified® Gold”.

Clear sustainability methodology pagehttps://www.zalando.co.uk/about-sustainability/

Applying a transparent ‘journey’ mindset—Being clear to users that the business is not fully in the life-centred paradigm yet, that it is in a transition to a more sustainable business and that it will take time, reminds consumers that we are all still learning and allows businesses to experiment to learn while doing their best to not unintentionally greenwash.

The sustainability labelling has been a live experiment from which Zalando appear to learn to evolve an ideal solution.

An earlier UX (now replaced by the existing UX) displayed a ‘Sustainability’ label on such products. Information about how these products were sustainable was displayed in accordion on the product page. This information was categorised into five product lifecycle metrics:

  • Reducing emissions
  • Animal Welfare
  • Worker wellbeing
  • Water conservation
  • Reusing materials

Five metrics are a lot easier to digest than ten. However, using the term ‘sustainable’ to label a product is problematic as it suggests that the product is fully sustainable. As many products are not, but they have made improvements, we need a taxonomy that reflects this improving, transitional, imperfect state. (I had a really interesting conversation with different perspectives on this earlier UX which you can read here.)

The ideal state of such a label is such a complex thing, needing to bring together many pieces of the puzzle, to inform customers about the various environmental and social aspects of a product, from using recycled materials, for example, to other lifecycle complexities such as reducing water and caring for lifecycle workers.

Zalando’s latest incarnation of labelling and metric categorisation seems to aim to address these challenges.

What is really key to me about offering labelling and filtering is that it’s a business initiative that consumers can interact with and learn from. A lot of green initiatives out there are promises, ways of working in change, etc. which are great, but this UX work that connects users with the business initiatives, I think that’s really important and exciting. I haven’t seen anyone take the sustainability filter concept this far, so I think that in itself is very beneficial as it can be inspiring to others.

Final impression

Zalando has clearly dedicated much time and learning to this approach and to their corporate commitment, and to achieve them. Their ongoing experimentation with the sustainability filter has shown learning and ongoing commitment.

From a user’s perspective, there’s a learning aspect to the icons, but they are simple and meaningful. Fashion is often quite a simple product, so just knowing it uses recycled materials or is made for circularity, consumers can be sure it’s creating less waste than others. But it’s the fashion industry’s supply chain’s waste and carbon that has so much negative impact on the environment, which is hard to know from the information provided here.

Still, it feels easy to learn, meaningful and feels simple to include in the decision-making process.

Hidden away somewhere in Amazon’s behemoth site is their Climate Pledge Friendly Hub. It’s not presently promoted from the home page or from its footer, or from its first-tier navigation and search filters. The hub is its own mini store, with a Home page, Shop, and Gift and FAQ sections. This discreet positioning is most likely a business decision to balance the need for having sustainable products present while not drawing too much attention to it while it’s in its infancy—because any product that has just one certified aspect of its lifecycle is listed by Amazon as Climate Pledge Friendly (CPF). While not using the word ‘sustainable’ is good in this case, the limited criteria for achieving sustainable recognition can dilute the effort.

For example, Amazon’s own Echo smart display, made of plastic and electronics, is marked as CPF due to it being certified for lowering its carbon emissions year after year for the full lifecycle of the product. But lowering CO2 is only part of the picture—what happens to the plastic and electronics when the user is finished? Does this waste cause more damage than the CO2 reduction being made each year? We don’t get any more detail.

Amazon’s Echo smart display displaying a CPF badge due to reduced carbon emissions
Amazon’s Echo smart display with a CPF badge due to reduced carbon emissions

Amazon states clearly this is just the beginning, as they’ll be adding more certifications. But I hope this means they’ll also be improving the criteria to receive the CPF logo so it’s more meaningful.

UX and behaviour change strategies

Scientifically determined product lifecycle metrics — Amazon has partnered with third-party certifications and created 2 of their own certifications, Compact by Design and Pre-owned Certified to recognise products with improvements in at least one aspect of sustainability. As mentioned above, this logo can be applied to any product with just one certification, so the range isn’t looking so sustainable at the movement.

Product filteringCPF is not a category in the main filtering drop-down, but it does appear way down in the Left-Hand side menu after making an initial search. Otherwise, all CPF products can be viewed together from the CPF hub which consists of a home page, shop, gifts, and FAQ section.

Product labelling — Products are labelled with a CPF icon and this is clickable to view its sustainable aspects, including the certification, from both the browsing page and product page.

Proof of CFP certification from the browsing page
Proof of CPF certification from the browsing page

Certification logos instead of bespoke icons — Amazon displays the product’s certification logo and name as first-tier information, rather than a bespoke icon that focuses on exactly how the product is sustainable. While this simplifies the information and provides immediate proof of the product’s CPF status, and the Certification name sometimes does suggest which aspect of the product’s lifecycle is actually sustainable, full detail isn’t given anywhere.

No extra detail on the product page

Transparency of proof — As mentioned above, the relevant certification is clearly displayed on both the browsing and product page and on the ‘more info’ page for the product’s certification, with a Q&A provided where further questions are answered.

The CPF certification for a product and the Q&A section
The CPF certification for a product and the Q&A section

Clear sustainable methodology page — The home page of the CPF hub does communicate clearly what the CPF is and how it works—https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=21221607011

Applying a transparent ‘journey’ mindset — Amazon makes it very clear ‘This is just the beginning, that they will be adding more certifications and working with manufacturers to certify more products over time. As I mentioned earlier, however, the criteria for assessment and how it is applied need to be redefined to accurately determine more sustainability.

Amazon’s Climate Friendly Pledge Hub
Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly Hub

Final impression

The simplicity is great, and the up-front proof of certification is excellent for reassurance. But with products only needing one certification to receive the CPF badge, it’s not super helpful in determining just how climate-friendly many products are, particularly electronics, leaving much up to the consumer to read each certificate for each product to try and make an assessment and decision.

Softly is a Chrome plugin that shows ‘sustainable’ product alternatives on eCommerce sites (it only works for Amazon at present) to encourage ‘more conscientious’ shoppers.

Install the plugin and then visit Amazon to see Softly in action. It displays a sticky button on the right-hand side that

Softly also offers to email sustainable shopping tips to subscribers

It doesn’t work seem to deliver product information when in mobile view, and only shows recommendations from product pages, so not while browsing. But, it’s a great start!

Greener has taken a different approach to enable sustainable shopping choices by creating an app that directs users to The Green Economy—a coalition of planet-friendly retailers who have been ‘independently verified to be doing more than other businesses to help the planet’ (but they are not a certifier):

  • Carbon
  • Waste
  • Materials
  • Social/Ethical
  • The Verified tick (3rd party accreditations)

Users browse shopping categories, from food and medicine to travel to homewares, to see Greener retailers and view what makes the retailer ‘sustainable’. Greener has designed their own 30 sustainability icons, or ‘badges’, to identify the sustainability specifics of a brand — the more criteria they meet, the more badges display.

On each retailer page, the app displays a few sustainable products that link the user directly to the product on the retailer’s website.

But if the user clicks the ‘Browse all products’ link that goes to the retailer’s home page, they have to find the sustainable products themselves. The problem with this is that stores offering many various products, like online supermarkets, stock a large combination of non-sustainable and sustainable products but doesn’t communicate to customers which are which, so they might purchase only unsustainable products. The idea is that shopping with these stores supports sustainability because these stores have met certain criteria.

While Greener provides excellent help for consumers, its calculations are based on a brand’s performance, not the individual product’s. So I think its real potential is still reliant on product-specific guidance to users provided outside their app and out of their control (unless they set and enforce further criteria for multi-product sites like online supermarkets to clearly define sustainable products).

Greener can also provide users with measurements of their carbon impact according to their purchases. They also claim to provide tips to improve. And retailers will offset the emissions of your purchases to make them carbon neutral, by reforesting, for example. A potential blocker to these benefits, however, is that users must link their cards to the app and allow the app to see every transaction on that card.

UX and behaviour change strategies:

Using independent 3rd parties to verify the sustainability of their recommendations

Bespoke sustainability icons—Translating existing standards into their own bespoke sustainability icons

Some of Greener’s 30 sustainability icons
Some of Greener’s 30 sustainability icons

Retailer aggregation — compiling all sustainable brands in one place

Gamification—utilising user behaviour metrics to inform and encourage more sustainable purchasing

Clear sustainability methodology page—https://www.getgreener.com/pages/frequently-asked-questions

Recommendations—To purchase more sustainably, based on your shopping activity

Matching — Offsetting the carbon footprint of every purchase

Final impression

I really like this idea, but I didn’t link my card because it has transactions from every area of my life. I don’t have anything to hide, but I do feel uncomfortable sharing my complete transaction history when it can reveal so much, such as where I go, who with (for example, if I transfer money to a friend for covering lunch), etc.

To add to my paranoia, there’s this small piece of information as I attempted to link my card that I needed more clarity on:

A pop up advising that my data would be shared with undisclosed 3rd parties
A pop up advising that my data would be shared with undisclosed 3rd parties

If I can get past my data fears, I would definitely explore using Greener. I’d be interested to see how it will facilitate smooth recurring shopping, through supermarkets, etc.

What would be even more powerful would be to draw into the app all the sustainable products from all the retailers.

Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia, the country’s largest airline, and the world’s third-oldest airline still in operation.

The Qantas Frequent Flyer program is a points-based reward system that discounts flights and other purchases for members. The program is now encouraging sustainable consumer behaviour through its Green Tier initiative.

Qantas’ Green Tier score board of 5 leaf icons representing the 5 sustainable activities required to reach Green Tier
Qantas’ Green Tier ‘score board’

The Green Tier is a membership level that unlocks specific benefits:

  • Digital recognition—a Green Tier digital Frequent Flyer card and the ability to change the Qantas App icon to an ‘exclusive green edition’
  • Exclusive event invitations—exclusive sustainability events and experiences
  • Bonus reward points—when purchasing certain sustainable products and experiences through Qantas Hotels and Qantas Wine
  • A bonus reward of the user’s choice—more reward points, status credits, or a 3-tonne carbon offset on the user’s behalf

Green Tier is achieved when a member completes 5 sustainable activities from a choice of 12 that are:

  • Sustainable products and services such as accommodation, flights, hotels, wine, insurance, etc, or…
  • Donations to specific recipients, or…
  • Testing your sustainability knowledge

The sustainable products and services have been determined by Qantas’ own metrics or by an accredited body they partner with, such as Sustainable Winegrowing Australia.

But while the gamification is an influencer in behaviour change, the general approach does seem to appeal to people who already care deeply about sustainability, as the products the points can be used for are only for other sustainable ones, and the option to forsake more points for carbon offsetting and/or donations to climate-related organisations would appeal to those more open to selfless ‘higher purpose’ activities.

Separate from the Green Tier initiative, Qantas has also provided the option for many years to passengers booking flights to offset their flight’s carbon emissions by paying a small fee (relative to flight time/distance), but also receiving Qantas points for every $1 they pay.

UX behaviour change methods

Status and recognition—Framing the participation as obtaining a ‘tier’ and then enabling the display of their achievement and commitment via exclusive digital recognition

Gamification—Setting a goal of 5 activities to obtain the tier, with extra points to further encourage purchasing of sustainable products and services, and a test to encourage users to improve their sustainability knowledge.

Higher purpose—While choosing to invest in sustainability is a self-decentring activity, Qantas’ providing of options such as forsaking more points for carbon offsetting and/or donations to climate-related further appeal to customers to do something for a purpose that is greater than one’s self

Final Impressions

This is tight! By that I mean it’s very brand-focused, very tightly contained within the brand’s ecosystem of products, services, and network. It defiantly appeals to those already very sustainably minded, while still tempting enough to encourage those less so to explore.

Without knowing a full impact assessment of the activities, I think that the fact that points gained through sustainable activities can only be used on other sustainable purchases (I think that’s right), and that there are also ‘higher purpose’ options, does give me a sense of quite meaningful and impactful behaviour change. It’s simply communicated and feels easy to achieve.

UX behaviour change methods

A food-specific eCommerce site, Greenchoice combines sustainability with health, using their own science-backed GreenScore® rating “to evaluate food and beverage products’ health and sustainability impacts” based on 4 criteria:

  • Nutritional value
  • Level of processing
  • Food safety
  • Environmental footprint
How Green Choice GreenScore® rating is defined
How Green Choice GreenScore® rating is defined

Greenchoice calculates and displays a rating for all products (from 1–100), but remember, this rating also includes an assessment of the product’s health qualities. To clearly indicate more ‘climate-friendly’ products, they display on them a green earth icon.

Green Choice products with rating labels
Green Choice products with rating labels

Product labelling — Products that are labelled with a rating icon allow users to discover and choose more sustainable and healthier products, while the generic green Earth icon help users focus further on sustainability

Sustainable scores on all products — Rather than highlighting sustainable products, Sustainabuy give all products an environmental rating which enables comparison

One overall environmental score per product — They use one overall environmental score, which keeps comparing and choosing between products easier

Recommendations—displayed at the bottom of each product page, these are alternative purchasing choices for lower carbon footprint and healthier options, based on products with an equal to or higher than the chosen product’s score

Matching—Offsetting the carbon footprint of every purchase, including products, packaging, & shipping

Final impression

The single overall score is really easy to consider in decision-making. And having the score applied to all products makes comparing easy and puts all products on the scale. I’m not sure about combining the human health and environmental impact into one score though, or maybe that is something I would get used to—this would be interesting to test.

Good Girls Gang is ‘a collective of female digital professionals who use their superpowers for designing pro-ecological & sustainable mobile & web solutions.’

In 2019, GGG offered a design adaptation of the Uber Eats app to promote planet-friendly eating habits and enable and encourage people wanting to switch to plant-based eating without redesigning the whole app.

Like Green Choice, the opportunity GGG explored combined an individual’s and the planet’s health. They challenged the existing “vegan” filters that displayed results also containing meat, dairy, and cheese, the Gang also speculated UX changes to label, filter, favourite, and promote plant-based eating.

Good Girl Gang’s design plant-based meal evolution for Uber
Good Girl Gang’s design plant-based meal evolution for Uber

UX behaviour change methods

Product labelling — A ‘planet indicator’ on eligible restaurants

Product filtering — Improving the existing vegan filter to display accurately

Promotional Campaigns—Promoting plant-based meals with themed promotions, such as synching with the existing international “Meatless Mondays” campaign, that promoted awareness of the health and environmental impacts of human eating choices, offering lower prices or free delivery, and asking celebrities to lend their fame to the cause

Favourites — A new and second ‘favourite’ icon to quickly access delicious, super healthy and ecological food to help users form the new habit of eating plant-based

Final Impression

So this was a concept from 2019, and the vegan filter does seem to be filtering well now. I’m not sure about the need for a second favourite icon, perhaps just the ability to create favourite groups would suffice.

The promotional campaigns would be such a minimal but impactful initiative, particularly in educating and spreading the word.

And the planet indicator has a lot of potential for indicating even more than the plant-friendly aspect of a restaurant but could include other commitments and decarbonisation by the restaurant, and could be gamified and rewarded by Uber to help ‘drive’ more restaurants to do the same (pardon the pun!).

Sustainabuy is an initiative by the Environmental Defense Fund that works with businesses to develop market-based solutions to environmental issues.

They created an eCommerce prototype to explore the future of sustainable e-commerce by demonstrating how to integrate expertly sourced sustainability data into the online shopping experience.

Like Greenchoice, Sustainabuy displays a rating across all products. Also, a green label defines those products that are ‘Sustainable’, but it is not clearly explained how this label might be determined. Both this and the rating calculation are more hypothetical in this prototype and might be determined on a case-by-case basis according to the client for whom Sustainabuy building the eCommerce site.

Sustainabuy’s labelling and rating on products
Sustainabuy’s labelling and rating on products

Product lifecycle sustainability metrics

Sustainabuy offers a limited range as an example:

  • Safer Packaging
  • Sustainability Farmed
  • Sustainability Packaged
  • Responsible Manufacturing
  • Safer Ingredients
  • Ecological Dyes
  • Organic Linen
Sustainabuy’s product lifecycle sustainability icons
Sustainabuy’s product lifecycle sustainability icons

UX behaviour change methods

Sustainable scores on all products — Rather than highlighting sustainable products, Sustainabuy give all products an environmental rating which enables comparison

One overall environmental score per product — They use one overall environmental score, which keeps comparing and choosing between products easier

‘Sustainable’ labelling for high-score products

More detail on the product page — At the product page level, they display more detail about the product’s sustainability, which are rated via graphical ‘Environmental Certifications’, as well as displaying the breakdown of the environmental scores which have their own metrics (Climate impact, chemical impact, water impact) — this is where so much detail becomes difficult to compare between products to be really useful in decision making whilst shopping

Sustainable methodology pagehttps://sustainabuy.com/method

Final impression

Like with Green Choice, the one overall impact score applied to all products here feels really useful for decision-making. And the sustainable badge for fully sustainable products would be even more useful but would need clarity of meaning and criteria.

  • Few products, if any, are fully sustainable and ethical
  • Adding sustainability consideration is introducing another layer of information a consumer has to consider when purchasing, it must be simple, meaningful, and usable in the decision-making moment
  • Be cautious with using the word ‘sustainable’, or labelling products ‘sustainable’ when they have made only one or a few sustainable improvements
  • Also, the word sustainable doesn’t immediately convey all the things we need to consider, such as the fairness of the supply chain for workers and impacted communities. But there is a learning/discovery journey here, and therefore we need to also consider cognitive load when presenting consumers with a new choice at the point of their decision-making
  • Companies are using existing standards and certifications and 3rd party verification to establish their metrics for identifying their ‘sustainable’ product range
  • But they are all grouping them in their own way and often creating their own range of bespoke icons to represent these metrics or groupings. While these are all quite clear in their meaning, and there are many that are similar across the ranges, this is an opportunity for standardisation across the grocery/supermarket industry
  • The other problem is starting with low criteria for products to receive a website’s recognition as ‘sustainable’—this needs to evolve quickly with some further intelligence applied to the criteria, to either ensure products have reached some minimum combination of certifications or can be given an overall rating, that is also applied to all products, for a more meaningful and accurate representation.

Behavioural UX suggestions from the research to be tested further:

Determine your ‘sustainable’ product range and metrics

  • Use existing standards and certifications and 3rd party verification to establish how you will identify and rate your planet-friendly product range
  • Review any existing ESG commitments of your business that you might be able to directly relate to the planet-friendliness of your products. In assessing this, consider the full lifecycle of a product — from material extraction to end of use — and how they may impact the three key stakeholder groups — all humans (users and non-user, like factory workers), animals, and environments
  • If determining a rating system, keep it simple and one that can be applied to all products

Determine your terminology

  • Only use the word ‘sustainable’ when the entire product is sustainable or when you’re referring to one aspect (e.g. sustainably sourced materials)
  • Determine a generic term to cover all products at all stages of their sustainable improvement journey, such as Amazon’s ‘Climate Friendly’, or ‘Planet Friendly’

Explore your strategy

Look across the key purchasing journeys, from browsing to post-checkout communications, and explore how to :

  • Inform — make customers aware of the planet-friendly product range and of your planet-friendly strategy
  • Enable — Make choosing planet-friendly products easy
  • Encourage — Encourage planet-friendly shopping and repeatable behaviours

Break the project into micro-journeys

  • Browsing
  • Checking out
  • Post-purchase review (lists, orders, user profile)
  • General awareness (campaigns, competitions, etc.)


At each page of the experience, display just enough information at the right time to not overwhelm users with this new information, but enough to create an onboarding experience through interaction and discovery.

Tier the revelation of this new information. For example:

  • Tier 1 — Use a planet-friendly label on products at the browsing stage
  • Tier 2 — Enable a tap/click from the label to reveal a simple explanation of the planet-friendly strategy, the product’s planet-friendly aspects, and proof of certification
  • Tier 3 — On the product page, provide more detail about how the product is sustainable (e.g. recyclable packaging, organic ingredients, etc), and link to a planet-friendly home page for a full explanation of the planet-friendly strategy, how products are certified (metrics), what certifications are used, and access to view the full range


Explore combining innovative UI with standard functions to make it easy for users to discover and choose sustainable options:

  • Filter, sort, or review the full range
  • Interests and Favourites
  • Recommendations, Comparisons, and Product swapping
  • Bespoke categorisation (gift ideas, etc.)
  • Make sustainable options the default options,

Nudge users into action:

  • Communicate benefits unrelated to environmental outcomes — amplify personal, environmental, social, or economic benefits (is the sustainable option cheaper?)
  • Connect to a higher purpose — Further tap into users’ intrinsic motivations by enabling them to do something for a purpose that is greater than their own (enabling support for causes through donations, etc.)


Encourage repeatable and evolving action:

  • Utilise existing point systems to encourage sustainable shopping through rewards
  • Use status and recognition features — Framing sustainable user behaviour in an empowering way and enabling the user to display and share their behaviours and achievements (customising personal digital items such as digital cards and app icons. etc.)
  • Vary benefits or rewards to create excitement
  • Recognise and encourage a user’s behaviours with ethical gamification — measure and show impacts over time, set goals, create tests, show comparisons with friends or other users, etc.
  • Integrate reward points with planet-friendly purchasing
  • Run promotional campaigns, or partner with existing ones, to promote sustainable purchasing
  • Match user’s sustainable purchasing with carbon offsets or reward points
  • Explore how to expand out to related behaviours and mindsets — for example, offer tips to assess how much food they throw away each week and how to reduce waste through smarter shopping, or how to repair products to make them last longer.

Create a visual language

Consider what visual queues to design to communicate your strategy:

  • Indicate the existence of your planet-friendly strategy with a logo, such as Green Choice’s green earth icon or Good Girl Gang’s ‘planet indicator’ icon
  • Consider how you will communicate the planet-friendliness of your range, such as creating an icon range to represent the specific sustainable aspects of products (e.g. recyclable packaging, etc.), or a rating device to be applied to all products (e.g. a single score)
  • Indicate how the products were proven to be planet-friendly (e.g. certifying body logos, or use your own bespoke set of icons, etc.)
  • Keep these simple as any new icon/logo on a product image/thumbnail may have to compete with other common online catalogue badges and logos (e.g. On sale, New, Low stock, etc.)

Clearly communicate the strategy

  • Create a landing page or hub that fully but clearly explains your sustainability story — keep it simple yet meaningful enough to generate the behaviour changes, explain benefits to the three stakeholders, and add a link to view the entire range on its own
  • Be authentic and employ a transparent ‘journey’ mindset about not yet being 100% sustainable and how the business plans to improve and evolve

Tough challenges

  • Price — More planet-friendly products are often more expensive, not always, but when they are, explore how you can sweeten the deal, such as bonus reward points, etc.
  • Quantity mismatch — The quantity of a selected product often won’t match the planet-friendly recommendation’s quantity (e.g. Generic Cling Wrap 90metres Vs Planet Friendly Cling Wrap 30metres), so explore how this can be addressed, with more accurate recommendations, or displaying price per metric (e.g. $0.20/metre)
  • Fairness — How will wholesalers feel seeing their products be ‘unrecommended’, particularly when the recommended product is the supermarket’s own brand?

In Part 2, I’ll apply this insight, with a life-centred approach, to adapt one of Australia’s main online grocery stores to enable ‘planet-friendly shopping’—subscribe to be notified!

Feel free to check out my other articles about designing life-centred futures and explore my website for design tools and resources.

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