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Size matter! A choice architectural field experiment in reducing food waste

PG Hansen, AM Jespersen, LR Skov

Journal of Food and Hospitality Research vol. 4 (2015)

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Objectives: We examined how a reduction in plate size would affect the amount of food waste from leftovers in a field experiment at a standing lunch for 220 CEOs. Methods: A standing lunch for 220 CEOs in the Danish Opera House was arranged to feature two identical buffets with plates of two different sizes. One buffet featured standard sized plates that served as control (standard size as provided by the caterer, 27cm). A second buffet featured smaller sized plates (24cm) that served as the intervention. After the lunch concluded (30 minutes), all leftover food was collected in designated trash bags according to size of plates and weighed in bulk. Results: Those eating from smaller plates (n=145) left significantly less food to waste (aver. 14,8g) than participants eating from standard plates (n=75) (aver. 20g) amounting to a reduction of 25,8%. Conclusions: Our field experiment tests the hypothesis that a decrease in the size of food plates may lead to significant reductions in food waste from buffets. It supports and extends the set of circumstances in which a recent experiment found that reduced dinner plates in a hotel chain lead to reduced quantities of leftovers.

 


‘Nudging’ hotel guests to reduce food waste as a win–win environmental measure

Kallbekken S, Sælen H

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We show that two simple and nonintrusive ‘nudges’–reducing plate size and providing social cues–reduce the amount of food waste in hotel restaurants by around 20%. The results are statistically significant. They are also environmentally substantial as food waste is a major contributor to climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. Given the magnitude of the contribution of food waste to global environmental change, it is surprising that this issue has not received greater attention. The measures reduce the amount of food the restaurants need to purchase, and there is no change in guest satisfaction, making it likely that profits will increase. The measures thus constitute potential win–win opportunities.

 


Boost Flood Preparedness with a Redesigned Letter

ideas42

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Recent severe weather events have increased concerns about growing flood risk and the resiliency of households in the floodplain, prompting efforts to improve preparedness and insurance coverage.

 


Reducing Household Water Consumption

Datta S

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A randomized evaluation found that households which received letters comparing water consumption to their local neighbors reduced water consumption by 1.5 m 3 (from 28 to 26.5 m 3).

 


The Short-Run and Long-Run Effects of Behavioral Interventions: Experimental Evidence from Energy Conservation

Allcott H, Rogers T

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Traditionally, utility companies have tried to promote energy conservation by providing subsidies for energy-efficient appliances. But recently there has been an increased focus on influencing consumer behavior.

 


Public praise vs. private pay: Effects of rewards on energy conservation in the workplace

Michel JJHandgraafa, Margriet A Van Lidth de Jeude, Kirstin CAppelt

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Energy consumption is a major source of CO2 emissions, which contribute to global climate change. Although technological solutions can help reduce CO2 emissions, behavioral changes are necessary to achieve sufficient reductions.

 


Can indifference make the world greener?

Johan Egebark, Mathias E

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We conducted a natural field experiment to evaluate two resource conservation programs. One intervention consisted of a moral appeal message asking university employees to cut back on printing in general, and to use double-sided printing whenever possible. The other intervention tested whether people׳s tendency to stick with pre-set alternatives is applicable to resource use: at random points in time we changed the default setting on the university printers, from single-sided to double-sided printing. Whereas the moral appeal had no impact, the default change cut paper use by 15 percent. Further analysis adds two important insights. First, we show that defaults influence behavior also in the longer run. Second, we present results indicating that resource efficient defaults have the advantage of avoiding unintended behavioral responses. Overall, our findings send a clear message to anyone concerned about resource conservation: there are potentially large gains to be made from small interventions.