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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Talking Trash: Bringing Research into Action while Reducing Household Solid Waste
by O'Connell, Elizabeth J., Ph.D., Prescott College, 2012, 296; 3513501
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation was an exploration of how changing the waste system is a necessary part of achieving sustainable human systems and how transforming consumer attitudes towards waste is a vital piece of sustainable waste management. This research was also an exploration of the attitudes and beliefs that promote and prohibit waste reduction behaviors. The unsustainable character of current waste systems was explained and put into an historical context. This research focused on how household waste plays a role in waste systems and how the waste behaviors and attitudes of individuals play a role in moving from a linear system of waste disposal to a cyclical system of waste recovery. This dissertation argues for the need to have a deeper understanding of how to elicit changes in waste attitudes and behaviors. The results of a participatory action research project with a group of residents to reduce household solid waste in a rural U.S. town are presented. The results from this study indicated that by employing the methods used in this project, people can be motivated to not only change their behaviors to reduce waste, but to encourage others to adopt those behaviors. The term 'catalyzing stewardship' is used to describe how participants engaged others in waste reduction. This term connotes the sharing of ideas and practices without implying that the individuals took on a leadership role. Methods to reduce waste undertaken by individuals, organizations, and municipalities are discussed. This research has added to the dialogue about how to increase environmental stewardship behaviors, specifically those that involve waste reduction.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Parajuli, Pramod
Commitee: Gruber, James S., Gutberlet, Jutta, Tudor, Terry
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 73/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Adult education, Sustainability
Keywords: Education, Environmental stewardship, Household solid waste, Leadership, Participatory action research, Sustainability, Waste reduction
Publication Number: 3513501
ISBN: 978-1-267-43811-9
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