Change is not so hard

One of the Environmental Psychology groups (Gwen Davis, Paige Piper, Margaret Raabe, Lauren Swinehart, Danny Tomes)  tackled the issue of bottled water. Here’s their description:

Water bottles create 3 billion pounds of waste! This waste impacts the environment much more than people might think. The trash vortex, otherwise known as “The Eastern Garbage Patch”, located in the North Pacific, is a pile of degrading garbage the size of Texas in which an estimated six kilos of plastic for every kilo of natural plankton, along with other garbage, swirls around choked with dead fish, marine mammals, and birds who get snared. Some plastics will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw them away. (

For our project, we decided to make a behavioral change campaign to reduce the amount of bottles of water sold on campus. We made flyers that we posted in the C-store, Mom’s, and Old Main, as well as information cards we put on tables in Lowry and a large poster we put in Lowry stairwell. We used these prompts to hopefully make people more aware of the environmental impact bottled water makes and possibly provoke reactance in individuals. These posters also provided feedback to people, letting them know buying bottles of water has a negative impact on the environment. We not only made people aware that buying these bottles was bad, but in all our flyers and posters we “challenged” them to try to use only one bottle of water through the entire week. We hoped that giving them a goal might catch students’ attention more than just a poster saying what they should not do.

The week before the campaign,  dining services reported selling 503 bottles of water. The week after the campaign, it was down to 417.  This isn’t enough data to conclude that the ad campaign was effective, but it’s encouraging.  What would it take to maintain the change?


To get some facts about bottled water, look here:

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2 Responses to Change is not so hard

  1. Mark Wilson says:

    Hello. Thanks for the good work and useful post. In that North Pacific Garbage Patch you say there are “an estimated six kilos of plastic”. What measurement unit do you mean by “kilos”?

  2. sclayton says:

    Thanks for catching that, Mark. The error probably resulted from cutting and pasting: it was 6 kilos plastic per kilo of plankton, according to the website. I have corrected the text!

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