Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Thesis Type

Honors College

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Macias

Second Advisor

Dr. Bindu Panikkar

Keywords

Behavioral change, behavioral practices, composting, food waste disposal, social change

Abstract

Behavioral studies are a growing field of research within waste management practices which have explored facets of individual and social barriers that influence disposal behaviors. Food waste composting programs, however, are a newer management practice being introduced throughout the United States that are often overlooked in these behavioral studies. To reduce this gap, I systematically reviewed behavioral studies literature on individual and social barriers associated with household food waste disposal and factors that influence disposal. In this research, I provide a general overview of the main social factors influencing household composting behavior and key solutions to overcome initial barriers. The results identify a broad range of factors that impact individual composting behaviors. It reveals that ability to compost change in response to socio-economic differences such as level of education, household size, and employment status. These situational aspects in turn create a lack of accessibility to necessary knowledge and resources, as well as lack of time to perform composting at home. Findings suggest that effective information provision and infrastructure may increase individuals’ willingness to participate in separate food waste disposal if it is perceived convenient and socially approved. These findings enrich understanding of common behavioral patterns demonstrated by individuals in relation to effective participation in waste management practices. It provides practical information for states like Vermont who have already created legislature banning food scraps from landfills and would want to encourage more people to compost food waste.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

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