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Promoting Sustainable Behavior: An Introduction to Community-Based Social Marketing - page 8 / 12

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McKenzie-Mohr

placing a decal on the side of their blue box or garbage container served to increase the likelihood that the household would compost more effectively, while at the same time fostering the development of descriptive social norms (Cialdini et al., 1990) in which composting is seen as appropriate behavior.

Based upon previous research that has successfully utilized commitments to spread the adoption of a new technique, grass cycling (Cobern, Porter, Leeming, & Dwyer, 1995), a similar approach was used in this project. Householders who composted were asked to speak to their neighbors about composting and provide them with a package that dispelled perceptions that it was unpleasant and inconve- nient, and provided requisite information on how to compost. While fully 81% agreed to place a decal on their blue box or garbage container, very few were willing to speak to their neighbors. This reluctance was a significant setback to the delivery of the program and underscores the importance of piloting strategies before broad implementation.

Those who indicated on the telephone that they did not compost were asked if they would be interested in beginning to compost. Those who expressed interest were visited by an employee who addressed the specific barriers that had been identified in the survey research. Although funding did not allow evaluation of this project, a pilot project that had been conducted the previous year, upon which this larger project was partially based, revealed that 80% of those household residents who had expressed an interest in composting were found to be composting in a follow-up several months later (K. Donnelly, personal communication, 1999).

Encouraging Water Efficiency

As a consequence of lawn watering, summer water use can rise 50% relative to other times of the year. In an effort to offset the cost of building a new water- processing plant, Durham Region, Ontario, developed a community-based social marketing strategy to reduce water use by 10% (Durham Region, 1997). Through survey techniques and direct observation, barriers to water-efficient lawn care were identified. Pilot households were divided into two groups. Householders in the first group were visited by a student employee on bicycle who spoke to resi- dents about efficient water use. Although psychological knowledge was not used to shape the presentation of this information, residents were provided with a water gauge (one identified barrier was that residents were unaware of when they had watered their lawn adequately) and a prompt that was to be placed over the outside water faucet that reminded residents to water their lawn on either odd or even calendar days based upon their house numbers and to water their lawns only when it had not rained in the previous week. Further, these residents were asked to sign commitments that they would water their lawns only on odd or even days and that they would limit their watering to one inch per week (72% of those approached made these commitments). Meanwhile, those householders who were in the

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