Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Dale Miller

Second Advisor

Heidi Souder

Third Advisor

Ginger Knowlton

Abstract

This thesis examines the factors of existing municipal compost programs and analyzes them from the perspective of urban residents in Denver, Colorado. Research to this point suggests economic and environmental concerns are the two most pertinent when it comes to conservation action participation. My ideal goal was to determine if appealing to an urban society’s environmental or economic ethic is most effective for transitioning residents toward more composting. The timing of the compost “rise” has presented a unique opportunity to study what type of incentives could be most influential for shifting toward environmentally conscious lifestyles. Public education campaigns are most effective for converting attitudes when the behavior is considered easy (recycling, turning lights off, etc.). I collected eighty-seven completed survey responses from a varied demographic of urban Denver residents in Civic Center Park. Prior to the survey questions, one third of participants are presented a graphic about the environmental benefits of composting and one-third about the economic benefits of composting. The final third of the participants receive no graphic at all, for my control group. With an overall average of 1.36, and as seen in figure 11, it’s clear that the environmentally focused graphic group was most likely to respond “Yes” to “Is composting an important action to you?” Using an α level of 0.05, the statistical analysis graphed in figure 11 had a p value of 0.0007, suggesting a strong significance for the test statistic. The test statistic produced an F value of 12.3, and we reject the null hypothesis and can conclude that there is a statistically significant difference between the type of graphic a participant viewed prior and if they thought composting was important in the survey. Compost incentive graphics also appear to be positively influencing feelings about similar conservation actions. For turning off lights and recycling, respondents who were shown a compost incentive graphic, either economic or environmental, were both significantly more likely than the control group to respond, “Yes”. Now, we need to delve deeper in PEC’s and master how to best distribute that information.