Reducing the amount of litter – Graduation Assignment

A blog by Daphne Visser. For the last few months I have been working together with the Professorship of Communication, Behaviour, and the Sustainable Society. With the help of the CBSS I recently completed my graduation assignment and graduated from the study programme International Communication.

A blog by Daphne Visser

The cooperation of me and other students with the CBSS was an experiment, but the concept worked: A group of students worked together with researchers, topic coaches, and a client. The researchers and topic coaches inspired students and answered their questions, and the client offered a real-life problem that the student had to solve. My client for this graduation assignment was the municipality of Noordoostpolder, or Gemeente Noordoostpolder. They experienced some issues with Central- and Eastern European migrant workers leaving litter on the streets. It was my task to find the underlying reason for this and how to reduce the amount of litter.

My graduation assignment was challenging but also interesting. The biggest challenge was obtaining research data. Not much research has been done on migrant workers and finding research data regarding waste management among migrant workers proved to be difficult, so I focussed more on the overall behaviour of the target group.

In the end, I obtained the research data I needed, and I could start creating a communication product that could be used to reduce litter. During the research it had become clear that there was a lack of knowledge about waste management and about what the municipality does and how they can help. Next to that, there was lack of trust in authority.

Another thing that I discovered was that the target group lacks a sense of belonginess due to their “migrant worker status”, which causes them to feel like they are a separate group from the native Dutch people. With my communication product I intended to improve their knowledge about relevant topics, but also simultaneously improve the sense of community and create more trust in the municipality.

My communication product was a communication strategy consisting of four elements: An information package, the set-up of an information point, a trashcan poster, and nudging footsteps.

The information package consists of information about waste management to teach them about the consequences of littering, but also about recycling and the municipality.

The information point is an open hour where questions from migrant workers will be answered and contains the opportunity to network. Both native Dutch people and migrant workers will be welcome here. It is meant to improve the sense of community, but also increase trust in the municipality.

The trashcan poster and nudging footsteps are meant to motivate the target group (and others) to throw away their waste by unconsciously nudging their minds towards the trashcans. The footsteps will be placed on the ground near trashcans to nudge the target group towards them.

To conclude, taken together, these interventions will directly and indirectly reduce the amount of litter being left behind and make sure that migrant workers feel welcome and part of a community while staying in the Noordoostpolder.

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