Composting Barrier & Benefit Research
2015-07-27 16:36:18 UTC
To increase residential composting among Corvallis residents, Dr. Hilary Boudets Applied Research Methods class at Oregon State University conducted research in partnership with the Corvallis Sustainability Coalitions Waste Prevention Action Team. Our three main areas of focus were as follows: (1) how Corvallis residents dispose of their food scraps, (2) what the barriers and motivations are to composting food scraps, and (3) what the best practices are for encouraging residential composting of food scraps in Corvallis.
After an in-depth review of research on composting, we surveyed a random sample of 60 residents who live within neighborhoods covered by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalitions Recycling Block Captain Program to better understand current composting behaviors, as well as motivations and barriers to composting. We also organized three focus groups to discuss questions related to the motivations behind and potential barriers to food scrap diversion. Finally, to elucidate best practices for encouraging residential composting of food scraps, we conducted five case studies of composting programs in other cities: Portland, OR; Alameda , CA; Boulder, CO; Huron, OH; and Hutchinson, MN. For each case, we collected information through an interview with a city employee and document analysis of outreach materials to obtain qualitative data about program development, measures for success, and mechanisms to increase composting.
Regarding current composting habits, 49% of the Corvallis residents who were surveyed throw scraps away in the regular trash; 44% compost food scraps in the yard waste bin; and 15% use a home composing system. Our survey results suggest homeowners were more likely to compost food scraps than renters and that 30% of non-composters have tried composting in the past. A primary barrier to composting listed by both survey and focus group participants was lack of knowledge, specifically in the following areas: (1) awareness that food scraps can be placed in the yard waste bin; (2) understanding the importance of composting; and (3) understanding how to compost and what can be composted. Other barriers include the notion that composting is time-consuming, the lack of an established household system to collect food scraps, and a low priority for composting. In addition, most non-composters had concerns about pests or unwanted odors. We found that those who composted were often motivated to do so because it is beneficial for the environment and because it is a common practice amongst friends, which indicates the importance of social and community norms.
We recommend the following to increase food scrap composting in Corvallis: (1) provide stickers for yard waste bins; (2) provide kitchen bins; (3) organize composting demonstrations at community events; (4) expand beyond a residential focus by also encouraging composting at government facilities, private companies, schools, and non-profit organizations; and (5) pilot programs at a smaller scale before planning a wider implementation. We believe these recommendations will mitigate the challenges that citizens face when considering composting and thus increase participation.
Oregon State University
Re:Energize Corvallis: Evaluating a Community Sustainability Program
2015-07-27 16:33:20 UTC
As part of a 2011 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency that aided in the creation of Energize Corvallis, the Corvallis Environmental Center developed and implemented the Campus and Communities Take Charge program with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging residents to adopt energy-saving behaviors. The Take Charge programs ask participants to choose 3-5 energy-saving behaviors and implement them for 1 month, tracking the participants attitudes and completion through surveys issued at the time of enrollment and time of completion.
Energize Corvallis contracted Oregon State Universitys Applied Research Methods class to evaluate the Take Charge programs via an analysis of the survey responses by participants from the pre- and post-survey instruments completed via the Take Charge website, interviews of past program participants, and through thematic analysis of case studies on successful environmental behavior-change programs.
The findings revealed that the Take Charge programs already engage in many of the best practices of similar programs but identified potential low-cost improvements that the program could foster to improve the completion rates of the program, resulting in a greater impact on sustainable behavior change.
Oregon State University
Encouraging Sustainable Business Practices for the Corvallis Community
2015-07-27 16:19:56 UTC
The Corvallis Sustainability Coalition, an extensive network of organizations and individual volunteers in Corvallis, provides grassroots leadership and encourages cooperation in order to create a more sustainable community. The Coalition contracted Oregon State Universitys Applied Research Methods class to provide advice on meeting Goal 2 of the Economic Vitality section of its 2013 Revised Sustainability Action Plan, which states that by 2020, 90% of businesses will use sustainable practices.
The primary purpose of this study is to identify the incentives and criteria that will support the Coalition's goal of fostering sustainable practices in the local business community. The study also examines barriers to implementation and the sustainable practices currently employed by Corvallis businesses. To accomplish these goals, we conducted case studies of sustainable business programs in similar communities and completed surveys and interviews
with local Corvallis businesses.
This report provides background and justification for our selected methodologies, discusses our results and findings, and presents recommendations.
Oregon State University