Study Shows Hampton Roads Residents Who Are “askHRgreen.org-aware” More Likely to Live a Green Life
Region-wide environmental education and awareness campaign continues to gain ground among localities
(Hampton Roads, Sept.9, 2015) – Are you askHRgreen.org-aware? Research shows that Hampton Roads residents who have tapped into the resources of askHRgreen.org are more likely to live a green life, while showing the greatest propensity for change when it comes to exhibiting positive green behaviors. Highlights of an April 2015 online survey, conducted for askHRgreen.org, show that awareness of the region-wide public awareness and education campaign has increased to 18.2 percent from 2012—a 6.2 percent gain.
That’s good news for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), which administers the campaign, funded by the region’s 17 cities and counties and HRSD.
“The 2015 study shows that the askHRgreen.org campaign is successfully changing behaviors and it continues to help localities effectively and efficiently meet their state regulatory requirements for improving the health of local waterways, recycling rates, awareness of water resources issues and sanitary sewer overflow prevention,” said Julia B. Hillegass, public information and community affairs administrator for the HRPDC and askHRgreen.org team leader.
To consolidate multiple green outreach programs of the HRPDC, and guided by the findings of a fall 2010 online benchmark survey to gauge the region’s environmental literacy, askHRgreen.org was launched in early 2011. The strategy was to provide residents with the tools they need to be good environmental stewards to help turn negative behaviors around. A follow-up survey conducted by EAB Research in November 2012 showed that askHRgreen.org was gaining ground.
The April 2015 survey confirmed the campaign has proven effective in educating and modifying the behavior of its target audiences, and that participants who have been to the website, attended an educational event or read or heard askHRgreen.org messaging in the media are more likely to report positive behavior and attitudes. Other general survey findings showed that:
• 20 percent of those surveyed had visited the askHRgreen.org website, and 80 percent of those went for general information or curiosity. 6.7 percent had a specific question.
• askHRgreen.org-aware participants considered themselves significantly more knowledgeable. From 2010 to 2015, aware participants who ranked themselves knowledgeable increased 17.2 points.
• The disconnect between a personal action and the effect it has on an individual (uncovered in the 2012 benchmark survey) is unchanged and is still significant in 2015.
• Except for younger respondents who seek environmental information at a high frequency, searching for environmental information is trending downward.
With regard to key campaign messaging, the 2015 survey revealed that respondents believe:
• Consumer costs for tap water and wastewater are seen as good values, and a majority of respondents were open to small increases to accommodate system upgrades. 57.7 percent said they are willing to pay an extra $1-5 per month to upgrade and sustain water systems.
• Respondents who use the garbage disposal showed no change between 2010 and 2012, but went up 3.5 points in 2015, showing a need to further educate residents about eliminating its use to prevent backups.
• Participants who flush materials other than toilet paper declined from 13 percent in 2012 to 10.5 percent in 2015.
• Of participants who said they recycle, 93.9 percent recycle at curbside, 28.3 percent recycle plastic or paper at specially marked bins at the grocery store and 26.6 percent recycle at special events. The top two reasons for not recycling are uncertainty about what can be recycled and that the bin fills up too quickly.
• The 2015 survey revealed that of the participants with a lawn or garden, 20.7 percent reported fertilizing three or more times per year and 41.6 percent fertilize 1-2 times per year.
• Since 2010, drinking bottled water at home has declined from 69.1 percent to 54.3 percent. The changes among askHRgreen.org-aware are more significant with a 21 point decrease over five years.
Over the next few years, Hillegass and her team will focus on improving the functionality of the website, increasing awareness of the campaign, showing the connection between negative environmental behaviors and the resulting consequences and engaging younger audiences to help grow their interest in the environment.
“We’ve proven that you can change people’s behaviors,” said Hillegass. “The campaign doesn’t have to change dramatically, because it is already doing the job. We’ll make it easier for people to find us and keep rolling out these important messages.”
askHRgreen.org is your go-to resource for all things green in Hampton Roads— from recycling tips and pointers for keeping local waterways clean to water-saving ideas and simple steps to make local living easy on the environment. Launched in 2011, the region-wide public awareness and education campaign is administered through the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission and powered by the following members: The cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Smithfield, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg; the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; and HRSD. Like askHRgreen.org on facebook, follow on Twitter, tune in to YouTube and catch the “Let’s Talk Green” blog, written by a team of local experts