The Influence of Plastic Bag Bans on Pro-Environmental Behaviors in Rhode Island Coastal Communities

Eva Touhey, University of Rhode Island


One of the greatest threats to the natural environment is marine debris pollution. Single-use plastics, one of many contributors to marine debris, are causing the greatest harm, affecting the well-being of humans and animals. In an effort to mitigate plastic pollution, environmental policies are implemented to reduce the availability of single-use plastic products to the consumer. This research looks explicitly at single-use plastic bag policies to see if implemented plastic bag bans promote pro-environmental behaviors and broader support for plastic bag policies. This study sampled two communities in Rhode Island, one with a single-use plastic bag ban, Middletown, and one without a single-use plastic bag ban, Warwick, performing face-to-face surveys with 50 individuals in each community (N = 100). The findings do not show support of a behavioral spillover effect; however, people living in the town with the implemented plastic bag ban used reusable bags more frequently than individuals in Warwick and showed greater support for a statewide plastic bag policy. In addition, age, gender, and environmental worldview (NEP) were predictors for some pro-environmental behaviors. In all, plastic bag polices could have broader implications for supporting similar and different environmental policies moving forward.

Subject Area

Environmental management|Behavioral Sciences|Sustainability

Recommended Citation

Eva Touhey, "The Influence of Plastic Bag Bans on Pro-Environmental Behaviors in Rhode Island Coastal Communities" (2019). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI13857079.