Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Adapting the Community Based Social Marketing Framework to Create Actionable Messages About Plastic Pollution at the Oregon Coast Aquarium

Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF


Attribute NameValues
  • Because of their convenience and durability, single-use plastic items have become a ubiquitous part of society since the 1930s. The overuse of these convenient and durable plastic items has created a social and environmental problem that plagues our oceans and waterways. While the issue is overwhelming and daunting, it is hopeful in the sense that it has realistic and feasible solutions. Aligned with their conservation missions, Zoos and aquariums are trusted sources for information on environmental topics and thus tremendous potential for educating the public and influencing plastic waste reduction. Working in conjunction with the Oregon Coast Aquarium (OCAq), this study explores how using a platform derived from the principles of Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) can assess visitor prior knowledge, identify barriers, and aid in the creation of actionable messages about plastic pollution. This project undertook a multiphase approach. Visitors to the OCAq, a nearby eco-tour company, and a nearby rural coastal community market were surveyed for their knowledge and use of plastic items. The data collected in the summer of 2018, was analyzed and used to create draft conservation messages about plastic pollution that recommend actionable and easy to implement changes to daily life. The messages were then piloted with visitors to the OCAq. Upon qualitative and quantitate data analysis, this project chose to create messages targeted to the OCAq guests about carrying their own utensils, using reusable produce bags, and bringing their own containers for left-over food at restaurants. These behaviors were paired with motivational and barrier components within the messages. The ideal message for visitors to the OCAq was found to be empowering, direct, scale the issue, and acknowledge societal barriers. This project can help inform how understanding plastic waste sources, target audiences, and the elements of effective messaging techniques is essential for raising awareness and inspiring behavior change. These methods can be applied to any organization wishing to communicate for behavior change alongside an environmental issue such as plastic pollution.
Resource Type
Date Issued
Degree Level
Degree Name
Degree Field
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Committee Member
Academic Affiliation
Rights Statement
Peer Reviewed



This work has no parents.

In Collection: