Working with Students Towards Sustainable Campuses

A student collecting debris on a rocky shore.

Eckerd College and the University of North Florida will foster long-term behavior change among undergraduate students to reduce single-use plastic consumption.

Type of Project: Prevention

Region: Florida and the Caribbean

Project Dates: September 2020 - February 2023

Who is involved?
With the support of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Eckerd College and the University of North Florida will reduce single-use plastic consumption and foster long-term pro-environmental behaviors among undergraduates by integrating education and outreach initiatives with Plastic Reduction Challenges. By reducing the consumption of single-use plastic, this project will also reduce the production of marine debris, especially in coastal areas.

What is the project and why is it important?
College students are typically away from home and making their own purchasing decisions for the first time. Encouraging behavioral changes, such as rejecting single-use plastics, during such a shift in lifestyle can lead to a lifetime of maintaining the habit. Eckerd College and the University of North Florida will use formal and informal education as well as outreach opportunities to raise awareness about marine debris on-campus and while at home, facilitate understanding of the connections between individual actions and impacts in the marine environment, and encourage behavior change. 

Students will participate in week-long Plastic Reduction Challenges, where they use an innovative smartphone app to log each use and refusal of single-use plastic, and receive real-time feedback on their behavior. This will lead to increased individual accountability and commitment to reducing plastic waste and marine debris. Eckerd College and the University of North Florida will use the data collected from the app, as well as student surveys, to further our understanding of single-use plastic consumption on university campuses.

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.