Evaluating the Use of a Carbon Footprint Calculator: Communicating Impacts of Consumption at Household Level and Exploring Mitigation Options

14 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2016

See all articles by Sarah E. West

Sarah E. West

Macalester College Dept. of Economics

Anne Owen

University of Leeds

Katarina Axelsson

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm

Chris West

University of York - Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), York

Date Written: June 2016

Abstract

Through an increasingly globalized supply chain, local consumption of goods and services has impacts around the world. The carbon footprint can be used to link local consumption to global greenhouse gas emissions. This study describes the development and use of REAP Petite, a household‐level footprint calculator. We describe how the tool integrates geodemographic information with user‐inputted data; allows users to compare their footprint with others in their community; and presents them with targeted pledges to help them reduce their impact. Such tools can help individuals to see the impact their consumption has on emissions and help promote alternative behaviors. Based on the lessons learned during tool development and through using the tool with individuals in the UK and Sweden, we make recommendations for the development of new footprinting tools for use in the public domain. We highlight the benefits of using bottom‐up methods for calculating footprints; recommend that designers consider future‐proofing their tools; discuss the trade‐off between complexity and usability; and recommend that designers consider going “beyond carbon” to increase the appeal of tools to a wider audience. We also highlight the importance of providing opportunity for users to compare their footprints with those of others and of monitoring and evaluating user engagement with the tool.

Keywords: behavioral change, carbon footprint calculator, consumption‐based emissions, engagement, industrial ecology, online tool

Suggested Citation

West, Sarah E. and Owen, Anne and Axelsson, Katarina and West, Chris, Evaluating the Use of a Carbon Footprint Calculator: Communicating Impacts of Consumption at Household Level and Exploring Mitigation Options (June 2016). Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 20, Issue 3, pp. 396-409, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2800391 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jiec.12372

Sarah E. West (Contact Author)

Macalester College Dept. of Economics ( email )

1600 Grand Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55105
United States
651-696-6482 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.macalester.edu/~wests

Anne Owen

University of Leeds ( email )

Leeds, LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Katarina Axelsson

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm

Linnégatan 87D
Stockholm, 104 51
Sweden

Chris West

University of York - Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), York

Heslington, England YO10 5NG
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
2
Abstract Views
343
PlumX Metrics