Ocean & Coastal Management

Volume 78, Pages 1-144 (June 2013)

Lucas B. Eastman, Paloma Núñez, Barbara Crettier, Martin Thiel, Identification of self-reported user behavior, education level, and preferences to reduce littering on beaches – A survey from the SE Pacific, Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 78, June 2013, Pages 18-24, ISSN 0964-5691, 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.02.014.
Abstract: Beach litter is an environmental, health, and economic burden around the world. Reducing or eliminating beach litter requires a sound understanding of the beach users that often produce the litter. Education has consistently been promulgated as positively influencing environmental behaviors, though this is not well-investigated for the beach environment. In this citizen science project, school children surveyed the population in their various coastal communities in Chile, garnering over 900 responses nationwide. The survey included several domains concerning the problem of beach litter: demographic profiles of beach users (including education level), their littering behavior, and their disposition and preference towards solutions. Nearly half of the participants admitted to having littered in some way while the majority of those with college or graduate school education said they never litter, significantly more than lower education groups. A vast majority of the population endorsed a fine for beach littering. Community-level environmental education (for the entire population, including litterers) was the most common solution proposed by beach users, but was significantly less popular the more often the participant self-reported littering. Based on these results it is suggested that beach managers create multifaceted and localized solutions that involve several strategies (environmental education, fines, more trash cans) and also take into account the demographic profile of the beach users (including their education level), which could influence their littering behavior and support of potential solutions.