Toward Sustainable Households: Passive Context-Aware Intervention to Promote Reduction in Food Waste

  • Bushra Alolayan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Food waste, a global concern for several years, has gained attention from Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research that aims to promote more sustainable lifestyles. Many researchers believe that domestic food waste is influenced by consumer behaviors that are promoted during everyday practices. The research described in this thesis starts with an investigation into the factors that influence consumer decision-making in ways that leads to food waste. The investigation was conducted using a combination of structured interviews, automatic collection of images from participants’ fridges, and Wizard-of-Oz interventions. The four causal variables of VBN theory are used throughout the thesis to structure and analyze data. These four variables are attitudinal factors, personal capabilities, contextual forces and habits or routines. The most significant of these factors, leading to the greatest amount of domestic food waste, is lack of awareness of fridge contents. This is addressed by building an effective context-aware persuasive technology. In an initial experiment, the design and implementation of a first prototype is proposed to investigate the impact of the context-aware persuasive technology system on behavior change and decision-making process. The findings indicated that availability of information about fridge contents was not in itself sufficient to persuade users to develop new habits or routines, and that contextual forces such as a busy lifestyle meant that users did not in fact enhance their personal capabilities by accessing the information about fridge contents, and that their old habits remained entrenched. These findings informed the design of an improved second prototype, called ‘EyeFridge’. This prototype has the novel functionality of pushing information over to users through notifications and reminders. A Wizard-of-Oz investigation allowed the effectiveness of these interventions to be studied without the need to build a fully functional intelligent fridge. The findings indicate that notifications and reminders overcame contextual forces and enhanced participants’ personal capabilities (by adding to their knowledge of fridge contents) so that they developed new habits or routines. Therefore, changed consumer behavior and influenced decision-making process related to food practices
Date of Award09 Jan 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorEdel Sherratt (Supervisor) & Neal Snooke (Supervisor)

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