Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You Expand to Your Surroundings....

A fascinating experiment at Alfred University in New York reveals our consumption impulses and how it's influenced by our surroundings. In this experiment Green Alfred removed dining trays from the cafeterias and they found out that students eat and waste less. The notion of an empty tray makes you want to fill it. This one step also ended up saving Alfred University money as well. Now remember, students could still go back and get more food, but lacking the initial space they didn't. Sometimes constraints are good.

I wouldn't be surprised if this must fill space, applies to other parts of our lives as well. When we buy a bigger house, we want to fill it, and buy more stuff. When we have a big refrigerator we want to fill it. So maybe small is good. We avoid choices when we can, and the constraint of choice forces the choices on us so we don't have to choose to choose.

Interestingly, our eyes may play a larger role in our assumed happiness than our feelings. Brian Wansink of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab explore mindless eatings, where the size of a plate influences how full you are. How odd. It's also odd that upstate New York seems to fixated on researching food and how we eat it. Perhaps because there is nothing else to do there (I speak with authority, as they said I did time). Wansink covers this in his book.

Sometimes we take more than we think we actually take. Understanding that about ourselves can help us be more green by being more mindful.


At 11:11 AM , Anonymous CindyW said...

A couple of months ago, I actually read an article about Wansink's food experiments. Really interesting. Here is a quote I found: “If you take the typical French person and put him in an American environment, he'll fall victim to the same cues that influence all of us,” he says. “We've got huge pantries and huge refrigerators inside huge kitchens inside huge houses,” Wansink said. “We can store a month's worth of potato chips and ice cream and still have room to spare.” Fittingly, cities with the highest premium on space—New York, for example—also show off the healthiest midsections.

Good to know that French people fall victim the same way we do here :)


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