Faculty Mentor

Sarah Mount

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 5-16-2018


Physical Education, Health and Recreation


According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)the United States generated 33 million tons of plastic waste in 2014 of which only 9.5% was recycled. In addition Americans use over 17 million barrels of oil a year to meet demands for plastic water bottles. Any reusable plastic that gets thrown away creates the need to harvest new raw materials contributing to pollution and energy consumption. If Americans consumed 50% fewer plastic water bottles per year they would save enough oil to power one million cars for six months. The purpose of this study was to identify college students’ attitudes barriers and beliefs regarding environmentally friendly behaviors such as waste reduction & recycling. A focus group was conducted to identify student attitudes towards and barriers for recycling and waste reduction. This qualitative data from the focus group was analyzed for important themes. A 12-item Likert scale online survey (“1” Strongly Agree to “5” Strongly Disagree) was administered to identify attitudes and perceived barriers for environmentally friendly behaviors. Survey data was analyzed for descriptive statistics using SPSS. Overall the focus group & survey found convenience and knowledge to be the biggest barriers to recycling. Data suggested that there needs to be more bins in easy to access locations across campus recycling bins should have labels showing what goes in each bin and more signage is needed to increase visibility of recycling. Tukey post hoc analyses revealed a significant difference in recycling behaviors between males and females (29.02 vs. 26.24; p=.009)meaning males are more likely to recycle than females. One limitation of this study was focus group participants were all Public Health majors. This limits the generalizability of the responses to the rest of the university. Another limitation was few survey responses from students living on campus which inhibits understanding of recycling & waste reduction in the dorms.

Focus Group Summary 2018.docx (133 kB)
Summarization of focus group responses