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Student harnesses power of Facebook for green research

Posted Sunday 9 October 2011

iGreen,the Facebook application designed by Kingston University student Kavita Patel.A PhD student at Kingston University is using Facebook to identify whether people are serious about sustainability, or just playing at being green.

Kavita Patel has designed a games application called iGreen which can be downloaded from the social networking site. The game is part of her research into how to encourage more eco-friendly behaviour. She is particularly interested in investigating whether those who play iGreen will be persuaded to act in a more sustainable way.

Kavita Patel hopes her Facebook application will encourage people to become more aware of how their behaviour impacts on the environment.The iGreen application includes six different eco-games and rewards users with access to a new game whenever they answer a set of 15 questions about their lifestyle. "They get a free game when they first download the application," Kavita explained. "Then they get a second game when they answer the questions. The following week they are prompted to complete the survey again." The survey includes questions such as 'During the last week how many times did you throw away an item that could have been recycled?'.

"Already nearly 500 people have downloaded the app from Facebook, which is terrific," Kavita said. "I'm fascinated by the way social networking sites can be used to help with all kinds of research."

Cycle City, one of the games available on Kavita Patel’s iGreen application. Professor Ruth Rettie from Kingston University's Business School says it is very difficult to change the way people act. "This is why we are exploring whether we can inspire people with fun games that could help to nudge them towards greener behaviour," she said.

Kavita hopes that her Facebook application will help people to see how their behaviour impacts on the environment. "There's no point lecturing people about sustainability - it just doesn't work," she explained.

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