REDUCE workshop to transfer results from WP2/3 to WP4 Future Scenarios

Opening and Project Overview

Project leader Marie Hebrok initiated the meeting with a warm welcome and provided a brief summary of the project’s activities to date. She also presented an overview of the project plan. A special welcome was extended to Julian Besson from KTH, who has recently joined the project.

Work Package 2 (WP2)

Nina Heidenstrøm was absent due to illness, so the recap of the 2023 poster session was removed from the agenda. Instead, Kirsi Laitala, Ingrid Haugsrud, and Tone Rasch presented object stories from WP2.

  • Kirsi Laitala discussed the evolution of the fleece jacket, highlighting the shift from natural to synthetic materials, specifically oil-based plastics. She noted the downcycling of plastic bottles into fleece jackets marketed as sustainable fashion, despite potential greenwashing.
  • Ingrid Haugsrud shared the history of Lego, illustrating its transition from wood to plastic. She pointed out the change from a flexible, all-round system of bricks to more gender-specific collections, which reduce flexibility. Tore also emphasized Lego’s powerful marketing strategy, integrating storytelling into children’s cartoons to create demand.
  • Tone Rasch examined the rise and fall of nylon stockings, demonstrating how plastics have decreased the value of everyday products. She contrasted the shift from natural silk to nylon, from elegant to single-use items, and highlighted the loss of repair traditions due to plastics. The presentations aimed to explore how plastics have permeated everyday life and the resultant problems.

Work Package 3 (WP3)

Ayse Kaplan Sarisaltik presented the status of her PhD project, «A Systemic Approach to Sustainable Plastic Consumption in Everyday Life Practices.» She discussed key findings related to stakeholders’ understanding of menstruation practices and proposed interventions. Topics included taboos around blood handling in public spaces, the importance of knowledge, and the role of responsible consumer choices. Detailed documents will be uploaded to a Teams folder as input for WP4.

Work Package 4 (WP4)

Since WP4 has not yet commenced, there are no concrete plans beyond the project description. Planning will begin in the fall of 2024. WP4 aims to produce films showcasing real people interacting with objects in everyday life, with the goal of provoking new ways of thinking about plastics and increasing knowledge and reflection on the issue. Potential objects for the exhibition may be created and combined with film.

Ideas and Next Steps

Several ideas were briefly discussed:

  • Intervening in misconceptions, such as the sustainability of recycled bottles in fleece jackets.
  • Using historical trajectories from WP2 to explore futures through backcasting.
  • Exploring intervention points suggested in WP3.

Action Items:

  1. Create folders on Teams with input from WP1, WP2, and WP3 for WP4.
  2. Plan a new workshop to discuss and select central themes for WP4 based on results from WP1, WP2, and WP3. The tentative date is October 21-24, in the context of the RSD conference in Oslo.
  3. Set up a meeting with WP1 to transfer results and discuss with WP4, preferably in September 2024.

Ongoing PhD project takes a systemic approach to the role of plastics in menstruation practices

PhD candidate Ayse Kaplan Sarisaltik has taken a particular interest in plastic consumption related to menstruation practices. Her study on menstruation practices explores various elements and their interrelations, while also providing suggested interventions and theoretical insights. It delves into the meanings, materials, and competences that make up menstruation practices, showing how these elements are interconnected. Cultural and personal significances influence the choice of menstrual products, and the skills required to use them are shaped by education and resource availability. Menstruation management is viewed as part of a broader web of daily practices and social norms.

The research suggests several interventions for sustainable menstruation practices, based on participant perspectives. Key areas for intervention include improving education and awareness about sustainable options, making sustainable menstrual products more accessible and affordable, and addressing cultural stigmas. Participants emphasized the importance of promoting reusable products, enhancing hygiene infrastructure, and advocating for supportive policies.

The study also provides insights into the holistic nature of menstruation practices, stressing the importance of considering meanings, materials, and competences together. It suggests frameworks for further research on the sustainability and cultural dimensions of menstruation. Overall, the study highlights the complexity of menstruation practices and offers recommendations for sustainable, culturally sensitive approaches.

Visual systems mapping workshops in WP3 Systemic Design

Ayse Kaplan Sarisaltik has conducted two workshops at the conferences Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD12), and the 5th PLATE Conference.

RSD12: Kaplan Sarısaltık, A. (2023). Unlocking Possibilities: Rethinking Plastic Hygiene Products through Systemic Design and Social Practice Theory. 

PLATE: Kaplan Sarısaltık, A. (2023). Reducing Plastic Consumption in Daily Life Practices by Applying Systemic Design Approach. 

The workshops employed semi-structured interviews combined with system map creation to explore the topic. Participants from diverse backgrounds, including consumers, business representatives, researchers, and association members, were involved to provide a range of perspectives. The research focused on plastic consumption in the contexts of menstruation hygiene and leisure activities such as hiking. To capture detailed insights, video and voice recordings were used during the interviews.

Presentation at Joint SCORAI-ERSCP-WUR Conference on Transforming Consumption-Production Systems Toward Just and Sustainable Futures

Ayse Kaplan Sarisaltik has delivered a presentation and a paper entitled: Leverage points for reducing the consumption of plastics – social practices as a starting point for systemic design (co-authored by supervisors Marie Hebrok and Tore Gulden).


This paper reflects on the combination of theoretical and methodological resources from the sociology of consumption, systems thinking, and systemic design. The framework discussed in this paper is developed as part of the REDUCE research project, which focuses on identifying paths toward reducing plastic consumption. By utilizing diverse data collection methods, including focus groups, interviews with the generation of system maps, and a workshop, the study investigates different approaches to discussing plastic consumption. The findings presented in this article show the potential of combining social practice theory and systemic design resources. This combination offers a new framework for understanding production and consumption systems and identifying points of intervention for change. While the study focuses on plastic consumption, the proposed framework could be applied to other consumption-related domains and beyond.

New article in Arr. idéhistorisk tidsskrift [(Norwegian) Journal of the History og Ideas]

Entitled: Da klær ble av plast. Nylonstrømpenes vekst og fall [When Clothes Became Plastic: The Rise and Fall of Nylon Stockings]

By Tone Rasch, Ingrid Haugsrud, and Kirsi Laitala.

Thin stockings for women were the first clothes made from oil-based fibers in the years immediately following World War II. We have examined how nylon stockings, as industrially produced plastic consumer goods, became part of everyday life and how perceptions of them were shaped and changed during the period from 1950 to 1970 in Norway. From being considered fashion items, they gradually became common consumer goods and are now, in many cases, regarded as disposable products. The value of nylon stockings has declined. At the same time, synthetic fibers have influenced consumer practices. We argue that the history of the rise and fall of nylon stockings in cultural and economic hierarchies during this period helps to understand how plastic became an integral part of our consumer everyday life. This example illustrates how the introduction of synthetic textiles fundamentally changed the use, maintenance, and lifespan of clothing.

Read the full article here.

Newsletter 2023/02

Film from the gathering June 8th. Produced by LOOP – contact: Mari Tjora.

Nyhetsbrevet på norsk

Work is progressing in the REDUCE project, and on June 8th, we had a large gathering with many of the partners where we discussed preliminary findings from the various work packages. We have conducted focus groups with consumers, analyzed how the plastic problem is discussed politically, and developed methods to map the systems in which plastic is involved. During the gathering, we generated new perspectives in several workshops. Present were LOOP, KTH, BIR, The Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology, ULU of Norway, Friends of the Earth Norway, Consumption Research Norway (SIFO/OsloMet), and the Institute of Product Design (OsloMet). This newsletter summarizes some of the discussions we had.

We discussed the ambiguity of plastic as both dangerous and protective. It protects us from the unpleasant and from infection, but at the same time, it is dangerous to us when it ends up in the environment and finds its way into our bodies. Furthermore, we delved into issues related to conscience and responsibility regarding handling plastic products. Many consumers feel guilty about their plastic consumption but find it difficult to do anything about it. Much of the responsibility falls on women. They desire systems that facilitate better opportunities to reduce consumption.

Politically, we have identified different ways in which plastic has been discussed as a problem in the last decades. Initially, plastic littering was highlighted as a visual problem, which led to a focus on the need to collect and recycle plastic. Thus, plastic waste became a valuable resource for recycling companies in line with the principles of a circular economy. Today, the issues related to plastic in the oceans and microplastics have become central in the debate, connecting plastic to the health and livelihood of humans and animals. In the ongoing work towards a global plastic agreement, there is a move toward curbing production, shifting the focus from managing already produced plastic to reducing production volumes. We believe that the new connection between health and plastic through microplastics may have contributed to this shift. The focus on the plastic problem as a littering problem diverts attention from health and volume and directs it toward consumers. Furthermore, municipalities are blamed for capacity issues in waste management. However, it now seems the EU is redirecting attention to the plastic industry. So, what about the perspective of the plastic industry? It projects high growth curves and engages in lobbying activities against threatening regulations from the EU.

At the same time, it is politically challenging to find tools with significant effects in a world where consumer needs have become what governs and legitimizes all new products. In Sweden, the plastic tax on plastic bags, which now costs 7 NOK, has caused outrage, and the new government plans to remove it. The extensive attention given to plastic bags can easily result in little more than greenwashing while shifting the focus away from the plastic industry’s responsibility. Additionally, plastic is associated with a cheap lifestyle, and not everyone can afford to avoid plastic, which can also lead to a class discussion. Simultaneously, plastic-free trends may result in many of the existing plastic products being replaced and ending up in the trash. So why don’t we just ban the most harmful plastics? To some extent, we have done so with single-use products in the food service industry, but this only applies to a fraction of all plastic products. We managed to ban smoking in public places with the help of smoking laws, so why not plastic? Perhaps because we don’t have good enough alternatives where the product did not exist before.

The plastic problem is, in this way, a complex problem where it is not enough to pull on one end of the tangle without investigating what may tighten elsewhere as a result. We must consider feedback mechanisms. Therefore, the systemic perspective in the project is so important. Through systemic design, we develop ways to understand the systems in which plastic consumption is involved to find points of influence for change. During the gathering, we all engaged in collaborative system mapping and reflection. By working together to identify and analyze complex systems, we could explore different understandings of plastic consumption and identify potential intervention points. The insights that emerged will be further utilized in the project.

In the next semester, we will conduct a netnography in which we aim to study how frontrunners reduce their plastic consumption. In this context, we define a frontrunner as a person who is particularly concerned with reducing their plastic consumption and makes an extraordinary effort to achieve it. This involves developing and using strategies, doing things differently, enduring disadvantages, perhaps sacrificing something, and maybe paying more, to be able to reduce their plastic consumption. The person has an above-average level of knowledge about plastic and sees it as an environmental problem. The person communicates about plastic through social media, books, or other channels that reach people, with the purpose of encouraging others to reduce their plastic consumption as well. The person may engage in work that contributes to plastic reduction, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur. We will also continue the systemic mapping of plastic consumption and further develop the methods for this.

The next major gathering will be in 2024, but we will stay in touch until then. Many of you have contributed through participation in interviews, input, and discussions, providing case studies for students, as well as writing, research, and consultancy work this year. Thank you!

The REDUCE team at SIFO wishes everyone a wonderful summer!

Newsletter 2022/01

The first six months of the project have passed and we are well underway. The workshop in April with our partners in business and other organizations yielded a lot of interesting discussions and gave our researchers much to work with in preparing for and conducting the research activities that are going on this year. Thanks to the inclusion of the experimental method “A day with plastics” in our workshop, our researchers working on WP2 Plastic Practices, got a lot of valuable feedback and insights. Particularly related to the level of direction that should be aimed for in the instructions for participants. For instance, regarding when and where images of plastic items should be made.

“A day with plastics” is a method that we are developing to create new knowledge on how plastic products are integrated into our everyday life, and what they mean to our everyday practices. It is a qualitative participatory research method, meaning that participants are taking part in gathering data through photographing the plastic objects they encounter during a normal day. The method will be applied when conducting focus groups in September/October.  Since Nina is going on parental leave in August, our new colleague Atle When Hegnes will step in for her and lead WP2 while she is away.  We are also happy to welcome PhD candidate Ayse Kaplan, who is coming to join the project in August/September this year.

There has also been a lot of activity in other work packages as well. In WP1 Policies & Regulations, we are currently compiling relevant political documents on the EU level and developing a framework for analysis. Unsurprisingly, many of these documents address packaging and single use plastic in general. Microplastics and textiles are the most recent topics added to the plastics discourse. In WP3 Systems Oriented Design, we are currently collaborating with HTS BeSafe, CleanCup and Friends of the Earth Norway to bring REDUCE into the master level course Visualizing Complexity that is running at OsloMet this fall. The idea is that students will get the opportunity to work on issues of interest both to themselves, to the partners of REDUCE and the project itself. The course is about gathering as much knowledge about a topic as possible, visualizing that knowledge as elements of a system (in a Giga Map), and then using that visualization to improve the knowledge through co-creation. Below you can see a Giga Map that OsloMet design students did last fall in collaboration with REDUCE. Read more about it and view the map in detail here.

Giga Map by design students

By using the map as a starting point for discussion – all relevant stakeholders can have their say and suggest changes to the map. In this way, we can arrive at a map that more accurately describes the current state of a system. The aim is to use this knowledge to find intervention points for improvements – to identify problems that are currently unknown or not properly understood, and finally to suggest new solutions. If this sounds interesting to some of our partners currently not involved in this part, please drop us an email, and we can talk.

Now the project is having a break over the summer holidays and will recommence in August. We thank all contributors for their valuable work so far, and look forward to continuing the collaboration on finding viable avenues for reducing the consumption of plastics.

How to reduce the problem of plastic pollution from artificial turf pitches?

In the course Visualizing Complexity the three masterstudents in design Marianne Dale, Thomas Rokstad and Fredrik Hope Knutsen have worked on the issue of artificial turf pitches that are made from plastic granulates. There are environmental problems connected to these pitches because large amounts of granulates are escaping the fields and ending up in nature. The students have mapped the problem extensively by designing a Giga Map showing the system(s) in which these granulates and related problems exist. The mapping has included desk top research and interviews of key actors. The map can be viewed more in detail for its insights and conclusions if you click the link below.

Atle Wehn Hegnes joins REDUCE

Atle Wehn Hegnes

We are happy to welcome our new colleague at SIFO, Atle Wehn Hegnes, to the REDUCE research team. Atle will be filling in for Nina as WP2 leader while she is on parental leave from August 2022. He is a sociologist leaving his position as researcher at NIBIO to return to his previous place of work at SIFO. Atle has recently published on a variety of topics i.e. sustainability risks in bioenergy, European urban agriculture, urban food systems and circular bioeconomy. We are looking forward to working with him in REDUCE.

REDUCE at EU Design Days

Julia Jacoby presenting REDUCE

REDUCE was presented to an international audience at the EU Design Days in Brussels June 10th by head of studies Julia Jacoby. The event is an initiative of the ERRIN Design & Creativity Working Group, which aims at promoting design and creativity as tools for innovation. Project leader Marie Hebrok was there as part of a group from the Department of Product Design and the Section for Research and Development at OsloMet. We were excited to be joined by the Research Director of OsloMet Yngve Foss. Marie also participated in a workshop on multi-stakeholder roleplaying for the Green Competences based on the GreenComp report.

Jostein Kandal Sundet, Nenad Pavel, Zacharias Andreadakis, Julia Jacoby, Marie Hebrok, Arild Berg, Yngve Foss.