Date of Award
Master of Science
Geography and Environmental Resources
AN ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS OF BROOKE A LOPEMAN, for the Master of Science degree IN GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES, presented on JULY 6, 2011, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: CAMPUS RECYCLING - INFLUENCES AND DECISIONS MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Matthew Therrell The purpose of this study is to assess the factors that most influence decision making in regards to environmental programming on a university campus. The results of this study serve as a guide for campus administration when implementing future environmental programs. At most universities there is a large population living on campus, this creates the opportunity to encourage pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors of a large population. College, for many students, is the first time away from their family home and a time they can develop new attitudes and behaviors. This allows campus administrators the opportunity to influence students at a time in which they are developing new habits. It is important for campus administration to understand the factors that influence students' participation in environmental programs and how to influence students' long term attitudes and behaviors toward environmental concerns. This study determined which factors most strongly influence students to participate in the recycling program within their residence halls. The roles and attitudes of University Housing Staff toward current environmental programs were also assessed. Improved understanding of student participation and administrator roles can help support future environmental efforts on campus. Interviews with administrators showed that while administration may have a reasonable understanding of the factors that influence students to participate in recycling programs; this understanding does not extend to the actual programs that are being implemented. Of the students surveyed in this research, 100% responded that they thought there are improvements that should be made to increase recycling on campus. The factors that should most influence administrators in environmental decisions on campus were explored with student opinions of the current programs. The recycling research completed shows that both convenience and pro-environmental education are important influences on students' decisions to participate in recycling programs within their residence halls. The research shows that recycling increased by 50% with the addition of both convenience and pro-environmental education. Based on the increase in the amount of recycling per person in this study, the addition of these two components throughout the residence halls at Southern Illinois University could result in approximately 3,750 pounds of waste reduction per semester. While convenience has been shown to have an influence on recycling, e.g. Jennings (2004), this study focuses on the influence of pro-environmental education as well. Education is an important component that many environmental programs on campus are lacking.
This thesis is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.