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Promoting Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing - page 7 / 12





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Promoting Sustainable Behavior


and statistics can lead to cost-effective and definitive pilots. With community- based social marketing, pilots are repeated until the desired level of behavior change has been achieved.


Despite the expense of delivering many environmental programs, evaluations of their effectiveness are infrequent. Community-based social marketing stresses the evaluation of implemented programs. Further, it emphasizes the direct mea- surement of behavior or its consequences (e.g., energy use) rather than relying on self-report measures.

Case Studies

Community-based social marketing has now been applied in a variety of projects across Canada. Here are two examples (others can be found at www. cbsm.com and www.toolsofchange.com).

Backyard Composting

The province of Nova Scotia recently announced a ban of all organic materials from landfills. In response, municipalities throughout the province are developing initiatives to remove organics from the waste stream. In King and Annapolis County, local officials decided to promote backyard composting as their preferred method of meeting this ban. Following the principles of community-based social marketing, they first conducted survey research to identify local barriers to back- yard composting and determine present levels of backyard composting. This research identified that a surprisingly high number of residents (56%) were com- posting. Further, this research indicated that in comparison with composters, those who were not composting perceived it to be inconvenient and unpleasant, not the “right thing to do,” and lacked basic knowledge on how to compost. Based on a review of the psychological literature, the program planners developed a unique initiative to leverage current levels of composting and overcome identified barri- ers. Given the high number of householders who were already composting, it was decided to leverage this participation in encouraging others to backyard compost. Students contacted local residents by telephone and asked them if they presently composted. Those who did were asked to make two commitments. The program planners reasoned that one explanation for the absence of community norms sup- porting backyard composting was the relative invisibility of composting compared to other activities, such as curbside recycling. Accordingly, those who composted were asked to commit to placing a decal on the side of their blue box or garbage container indicating that they composted. As a form of commitment, the act of

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