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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2022

“Sustainability Pledges: Reducing Single Use Plastics and Changing Student Behavior”

Jayvardhan Singh

Graduate Student, MBA Professional

Abstract

Single-use plastics are a major source of solid waste/pollution. A study assessing waste items found in seven ecosystems globally identified single-use plastic water bottles accounting for almost 12% of waste polluting the world’s oceans, second only to plastic bags (McCarthy, 2021). With water-bottle filling stations making safe drinking water readily available on campus, a behavior change campaign was designed to encourage students to switch from single-use plastic water bottles to reusable/refillable water bottles, which seemed like an opportunity to reduce single-use plastic waste at UWO. In this research we investigated the power of an informational campaign combined with an invitation to take a “sustainability pledge” in an effort to encourage students to decrease their use of single-use water bottles. Students living in UWO dorms took a pre and post campaign survey. After receiving a short address about sustainability efforts on campus by Community Advisors in dorms during floor meetings, students were asked to take a sustainability pledge. Students in all dorms except North and South Scott Halls were asked to privately commit to reducing single-use plastic water bottles (by SIRT website) and sign sustainability pledge (private pledge condition), while other students, who reside in North and South Scott Halls, were asked to sign their name to a sustainability pledge banner displayed in their dorm (public pledge condition) committing them to reduce single-use plastic water bottles. Using a comparison of pre/post-survey data by dorm condition we examined if attitudes and self-reported behavior differs by dorm condition: public vs. private pledge invitation.

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