Date of Award

2019

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs

Department

Marine Affairs

First Advisor

David Bidwell

Abstract

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.

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