Assessing opportunities and constraints in campus sustainability: The role of paper consumption

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This article presents the findings of a case study of paper consumption behavior at the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta. Using methods of social research such as survey, focus groups, and behavioral experimentation, we tested explanations of pro-environmental behavior with respect to paper consumption in academia. Our behavioral experiment, designed to encourage voluntary reduction of paper use and adoption of green paper products at the School of Public Health, resulted in a reduction in paper consumption of approximately 23 percent. Not surprisingly, our findings indicate an inverse relationship between willingness to adopt pro-environmental behaviors and individual effort. Behavioral experimentation, however, illustrated several mechanisms for motivating pro-environmental behaviors, even when such behaviors entailed increased effort. While the provision of information is a necessary but insufficient condition in achieving pro-environmental behavioral change, results show that the content and mechanism of information dissemination can affect its uptake by individuals. Among a set of communication strategies, in-person presentations of information that placed individual behaviors into the larger context of environmental impact were perceived to be the most effective source of motivation.

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    Article (Published)
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  • License
    This is a copy of an article published in Sustainability: The Journal of Record © 2010 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Sustainability: The Journal of Record is available online at: This version of this article is open access and can be downloaded and shared. The original author(s) and source must be cited.
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    • Isaev, N., Clark, M. R., and Davidson, D. J. (2010). Assessing opportunities and constraints in campus sustainability: The role of paper consumption. Sustainability: The Journal of Record, 3(3), 171-177. DOI:10.1089/sus.2010.9772.