Aquarium visitor engagement with an ocean plastics exhibit: Effects on self-reported intended single-use plastic reductions and plastic-related environmental stewardship actions
Abstract: Plastic pollution requires, among a suite of other interventions, education to inspire behavioral change and reduce consumption of single-use items. We designed and installed an ocean plastics exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon, USA. We evaluated visitor engagement and the effects of the exhibit on their reported single-use plastic and plastic-related environmental stewardship intentions. Timed interaction observations (n = 317) revealed children (0–17 years) engaged more with interactive elements than adults (18–80+ years). Ten single-use plastic reduction and plastic stewardship intentions were evaluated through structured questionnaires; the top three behaviors visitors intended to change were: using a reusable straw (37.4%), cleaning the beach (37.4%), and bring-your-own bag to the store or market (33.0%). 18 to 29 year olds had the highest change in desire to address the ocean plastics problem before and after seeing the exhibit, but the lowest likelihood of engaging in either single-use plastics reduction or plastic stewardship actions of all age groups.
Authors: Britta R. Baechler, Elise F. Granek, Kerry A. Carlin-Morgan, Tina E. Smith, and Max Nielsen-Pincus