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Developing and disseminating a foodprint tool to raise awareness about healthy and environmentally conscious food choices

Author(s): Corné van Dooren | Tine Bosschaert

Journal: Sustainability : Science, Practice and Policy
ISSN 1548-7733

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 70;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: food preferences | diets | management tools | communication | social behavior | internet | environmental impact

This article describes the development and dissemination of an ecological footprint tool that provides a concise and scientifically grounded summary of the environmental impact of personal food choices. Developed to be easy to use and available to consumers via online social networking platforms, the tool aims to raise awareness and to provide an impetus for behavior change. The foodprint tool communicates scientifically informed and customized practical advice on how individuals can reduce their ecological footprint (EF) (or “foodprint”). The first part of the article describes the process of developing this tool, the choice of indicator, the goals, and the results. Among other aspects, the tool enables users to understand that the largest contributors to their foodprint are sources of animal protein: dairy, meat, and fish. The second part of the article describes the strategy guiding the tool’s design and implementation, which is based on a combination of contextual communication, feedback from peers, and intrinsic motivation. In this footprint tool, a focus on food patterns, interactive feedback, and social media plays a key role. The tool consists of a survey with fifteen questions about personal food choice that allow users to receive individualized feedback, including five suggestions for reducing personal foodprints. Users can also share their results through customary social media. Due to an effective outreach campaign, a total of 90,000 Dutch consumers used this tool over a period of four months, with 1% indicating that they intended to change behavior.
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