Characterizing Perceptions of Material Sustainability through Drinking Vessels

Kiersten Muenchinger
University of Oregon, USA

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Ingår i: KEER2014. Proceedings of the 5th Kanesi Engineering and Emotion Research; International Conference; Linköping; Sweden; June 11-13

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 100:17, s. 227-236

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Publicerad: 2014-06-11

ISBN: 978-91-7519-276-5

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Our perceptions of the environmental impacts that materials have tend to be formed by vernacular knowledge and experience. We are familiar with recycling aluminum cans; so aluminum must be sustainable because it is so recyclable. We bring our own mugs to the coffee shop because we see ceramic mugs as more durable than disposable paper cups. Images of plastic bottles littering our landscapes lead us to believe that polymers are harmful because they don’t degrade. Our perceptions of the sustainability characteristics of these materials – aluminum; ceramic; and polymer – are influenced by our experience with products made from these materials. To date; Kansei engineering studies to assess perceptions of the sustainabilities of materials have been conducted with materials samples. The goal of this study is to see how people perceive the sustainability of a material used to make a specific product. For the study; a series of seven drinking vessels; each made of a different material; was fabricated. Each vessel was designed to have the same environmental impact as its companions; as calculated based on the 2007 Okala single-figure Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). This paper examines how people perceived ten unique sustainability attributes of these drinking vessels; and which of these attributes may have a dominant effect on the product’s overall perceived sustainability. Clarifying which attributes of sustainability influence peoples’ understanding of a product’s overall sustainability will help product designers and engineers select materials for products that consumers will accept; understand; and champion for their reduced environmental impacts.


Materials Selection; Sustainability; Product Development; Life Cycle Assessment; Kansei Engineering


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