July 29, 2018-
We’ve seen the destruction: A turtle struggling to breathe with a plastic straw stuck up its nose. A whale starving to death with a belly tangled by plastic shopping bags. The public is increasingly aware of the harm that single-use plastic products do to wildlife and the environment. And yet, at grocery stores and restaurants, we take them without a second thought. Why?
“Research shows that knowledge isn’t the only thing that will change behavior. You usually need much more,” said Caitie Nigrelli, an environmental social scientist at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. “The benefits have to be tangible and the behavior needs to be feasible and within their abilities.” As plastic production increases and our landfills fill up, can social science help us control our plastic addiction? One significant obstacle is that single-use plastic is almost impossible to avoid. “The consumer often times has little choice to refuse plastic, ” said Trent Hodges, Plastic Pollution Manager for the Surf-rider Foundation. “And because it’s so ubiquitous and such a common item, it becomes a force of habit.