Out of sight, out of mind : what influences our perception of waste and activates our intention to live more sustainably?
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SubjectRefuse and refuse disposal; Environmental education; Recycling (Waste, etc.); Compost; Ucluelet (B.C.); Grounded theory (Research methodology); Interviews (Research methodology)
Landfills in British Columbia are reaching capacity; this has sparked renewed efforts to curb the output of household waste. Extending previous quantitative studies, I use a qualitative grounded theory approach to explore what influences the perception of waste and activates the intention to recycle and compost. Participants from Ucluelet, British Columbia, accumulated their refuse, recyclables, and compost during a four week period; simultaneously, I interviewed them about the meanings and feelings they associated with the process. My results suggest that participants' attitudes about waste are strongly influenced by what they see. Because garbage is regularly hauled away and dumped out of sight, participants were relatively unaware of how much they produce and its environmental impact. Increasing awareness appears to be a key factor in changing waste diversion intentions; incorporating small pro-environmental changes may lead to further changes. This reaffirms previous findings that adopting one environmental behaviour can empower further change.
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