Environmental Studies Program


Date of this Version



Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2021.


Copyright Stoessel 2021


Reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags is a necessary sustainability step as it will reduce pollution of air, soil, waterways, and ingestion by marine animals. The Theory of Planned Behavior is used in this study to determine which components are the influencing factors for why students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln use single-use plastic bags. An understanding of these factors allows for suggestions and recommendations for actions that can be taken by the university to combat this environmental issue. EcoCoin is an incentive-based program created by Penn State, and is the focus of this study. The literature review of this study looks at the successes and failures of bans and incentive-based programs used to reduce the distribution and use of single-use plastic bags. A one-time survey using the program Qualtrics was distributed to UNL students through convenient participation. The goal of the survey is to determine the factors contributing to why students use single-use plastic bags, where they use them, and what they do with them afterward. Attitude and perceived behavioral control are the two Theory of Planned Behavior factors that influence students’ use of single-use plastic bags. A majority of survey respondents answered that they would participate in an incentive-based program like EcoCoin and would find it a worthwhile method to reduce their use of single-use plastic bags. As indicated by the survey results the EcoCoin program would be most effective if implemented at restaurants and the UNL bookstore as these are the two locations where most students are using single-use plastic bags. With UNL students wanting to reduce their use of single-use plastic bags the university needs to provide them with the resources to do so.