A/P Paulin StraughanSociology DepartmentNational University Singapore
Research Aims & Methodology Key Findings Litter as social construct Contextual meaning of littering Rationalizing anti-social behaviour Strategies for promoting pro-social behaviour
To obtain empirical evidence on public perception towards littering To identify the social, cultural and environment triggers that contribute to littering behaviour To derive effective interventions for public campaigns to promote a clean & green Singapore
Survey conducted January – March 2010 Target population Adults in the community Youths in the community School students Response rate Public Youth Schools Effective 1521 1482 1500 Sample size Response rate 75% 70% 78%
YES – 62.6% do NOT litter (vs 1.2% who litter regardless) Norms on littering embraced by majority
YES Norms change – people re-negotiate boundaries for acceptable behaviour New cohorts entering population City more densely populated now – new challenges for NEA Key Focus – Relevance of Messaging
What constitutes litter? NEA – anything discarded outside of bins Public – strong consensus (above 95%) that tissue, cigarette butts, flyers, receipts, unfinished food items, disposable utensils, empty drink containers, small plastic bags & candy wrappers = litter Leaving unwanted items at lift landing, disposal of parking coupon tabs & small pieces of paper NOT litter Implication for policy: set norms for what constitutes litter
1. The litter bin is full so John leaves his empty coke bottle by the side of the bin.2. The street is very dirty, and trash is everywhere. Jane throws her used tissue by the side of the street.3. John is running to catch the bus and drops his empty coke bottle. He just leaves it on the ground and runs off.4. As Jane is walking out from the cafe, the wind blows her stack of napkins all over. She does not pick them up.5. John buries his cigarette bud in the flowerpot by the side of the road.6. John and Jane are taking a snack break on the public bench and leaves a small piece of food wrapper behind because the bin is too far away.7. Jane is visiting the shopping centre with her son and he drops a sweet wrapper on the floor. She does not pick them up.8. John and Jane are having a barbeque party with their friends at East Coast Park. They leave their trash neatly piled up on
◦ Finding 1 - Many do not perceive the act of leaving trash by the side of overflowing bins as litteringImplication for policy: NEA will have to ensure that bins are regularly emptied.◦ Finding 2 - 40% of students believe that if they left their trash on the tables after a barbeque party at the ECP, it was not wrong as cleaners are expected to take care of it.Implication for policy: public messages to address misconceptions.
◦ Finding 3 - the notion of intent. If there is not intent to litter, then even if litter is generated, a significant portion of respondents felt that they did not have to actively rectify the situation.Implication for policy: public education to set norms that promote active citizenry which does not converge on attributing cause (ie, it is not my responsibility if I did not throw the litter intentionally).
◦ They were more likely to – Agree that it was alright to discard trash wherever convenient Agreed that it was alright to throw trash around a full bin Agreed that it was alright to litter in a dirty place Disagreed that they would carry trash with them until they came to an empty bin Agreed that they would litter if others around them were littering
Toeffect normative change, messages have to be very specific and reinforced consistently. “It only takes 3minutes or 100 steps before you reach the next bin ”
Ensure environmental supportBins should be assessable and functional – especially in public spaces with high utilization ratesProvide contact number that members of the public can invoke to provide feedback on binning conditionsWe must empower Singaporeans to place a more active role in helping to keeping our shared spaces clean.
Those who litter were more likely to have significant others who approved of littering & who were perceived to litter as well Peer influence much stronger than family influence Implication for policy: NEA to leverage on this invaluable asset & design interventions that work through informal social support Community involvement – invoke WoMen PoWer
Litterer as rebels Anti-establishmenta. The government only looks after the interest of the rich and influential people in our societyb. Laws and rules are meant to protect the rich and influential, not the ordinary man on the streetc. Rules are made for a good reason*d. It is important for us to obey the rules set by the authorities*
Students perceived they have low control Top-down approach with students may not be as effective To motivate them to take ownership of programs, we have to empower them with decision-making tools & designs that facilitate measurable outcomes Implication for policy: encourage self-policing with peer mentoring
Relevance of the messaging Frame the message through socially significant others Environmental support– accessibility of bins- consistency of enforcement