Plastic-free campaigns are already popular among shoppers
The long-overdue move to reduce Australia’s plastic pollution is underway with the introduction of single-use bags by Woolworths and Coles at their checkout counters. Queensland and Western Australia will also ban single-use bags from all retailers on July 1.
It is still a very small step, and many things need to be done.
In order to change people’s behavior, it is important to find out what strategies are most effective for educating the public and changing their consumption habits.
Read more: In banning plastic bags, we need to make sure we’re not creating new problems.
Research shows that fear or shock tactics, or strategies based on shame and guilt, are generally not effective and can even be counterproductive. High-threat fear appeals can be effectively provided that the target audience is already taking positive steps toward the desired behavior change or feels that they can easily do so. Crucially, this means that campaigns not only need to tell people about an issue but also provide straightforward advice on what to do about it.
The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority’s “Hey Tosser!” campaign is ill-conceived in this context. It’s a problem that encourages public shame of “tossers” and creates a stereotype which is not true. A study revealed that Australians often don’t realize how much litter they produce. This could lead people to disregard the campaign and identify themselves as “non throwers.””
Les Robinson, an expert in social behavior change, has said that it’s better to encourage people to change by creating a positive atmosphere, making new behaviors easy to adopt, and fostering supportive communities.
It is, therefore, important that people feel part of a movement that is inclusive, supported by their community, and relevant to them.
The WA government has launched a campaign called “What’s your bag-plan? “in which it encourages shoppers to choose how they want to carry their groceries after plastic bags are banned. They can either become “baggers” (reusable bags), “boxers” (cardboard boxers), or “jugglers” (neither!) ).
The good and bad
Greenpeace’s recent initiative, where overpackaged fruits and vegetables were labeled with stickers saying “I would like this product plastic free” and “We love plastic-free food and veg,”” allows consumers to view these changes as positive easily. No one is being blamed or shamed. Instead, the focus is on making it easy for consumers to request more environmentally friendly options from supermarkets.
On Instagram and Twitter, Greenpeace is encouraging consumers to share photos of excessive packaging under the hashtag #RidiculousPackaging. It is a way to get consumers involved and to make others aware of the excessive use of plastics in supermarkets.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific has launched a sticker campaign to encourage consumers to buy plastic-free fruits and vegetables and put pressure on supermarkets. Instagram/Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Twitter users are encouraged to share images of excessive plastic packaging. Twitter
Other campaigns, on the other hand, aim to highlight the damaging effects of plastic waste. They can be attractive, but unless they convey a clear message that consumers have the power and ability to change behavior, it is unlikely to work.
The UK Marine Conservation Society campaign that shows a straw stuck up a child’s nose (echoing a horrific viral video showing a sea turtle suffering the same fate) is both shocking and provokes thought. The campaign is both surprising and thought-provoking.
Eye-watering stuff. Marine Conservation Society UK
Winning the war
The ABC documentary series War On Waste has been one of the most effective campaigns in Australia over the past few years. The success of the series can be attributed in part to its clever combination of shocking information and entertaining storylines.
Combining these elements has had a beneficial impact. The sale of reusable coffee cups for take-out increased sharply following the broadcast. My experience at my local grocery store suggests that shoppers are taking the recycling message of soft plastics to heart.