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Use of plastic bags: factors affecting ecologically oriented behavior in consumers.
Abstract:
Environmental hazard due to use of plastic bags and improper disposal is becoming a threat. The objective of this research was to analyze the factors responsible for using plastic bags by the consumers and identify the important psychological barriers to a more widespread adoption of ecological sustainable life styles. Seven Hundred consumers of Delhi and NCR region were identified based on convenient sample for the data collection covering all segments of society. Four independent factors were identified and labeled as Environmental Awareness, Active Participation, Health Hazards and Alternative Choice, from all segments together. The results reveal that mere knowledge does not help until measures are taken at policy level for its usage implementing strict measures to drive behavioral practices.

Article Type:
Report
Subject:
Plastic bags (Usage)
Plastic bags (Waste management)
Environmental protection (Methods)
Author:
Sanghi, Seema
Pub Date:
10/01/2008
Publication:
Name: Abhigyan Publisher: Foundation for Organisational Research & Education Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Foundation for Organisational Research & Education ISSN: 0970-2385
Issue:
Date: Oct-Dec, 2008 Source Volume: 26 Source Issue: 3
Topic:
Event Code: 420 Pollutants produced & recycled Computer Subject: Environmental issue
Geographic:
Geographic Scope: India Geographic Code: 9INDI India
Accession Number:
192438179
Full Text:
Introduction

The explosion of technology, though makes our lives smooth and comfortable, also bring with it certain disasters. The disaster is made by the users of the technology-the human beings. It is our behavior which affects the environment. It may be global warming, depletion of natural resources, seasonal uncertainties, or serious health problems, we are responsible in some or the other way to make it happen. Here comes the question, how informed, sensible and responsible we are as consumers? We are least bothered about our behavior, causing more harm to our planet. Unless we engage ourselves in ecologically oriented or pro-environmental behavior, we are on the way to perish. The protection of the physical environment requires a multidisciplinary approach involving a wider representation of various sections and communities of the society at large.

In the march towards success and technological excellence, we human beings have caused much harm to planet earth. We consume valuables and irreplaceable resources, like coal and oil, at an ever-increasing rate. Items like paper, plastics, glass and fabrics are consumed in limitless amounts and wasted thoughtlessly. If we continue to do so, humanity and planet earth will soon be in danger.

Review of Literature

Plastic Bags and the Environment A Plastic bag is a flexible packaging bag made of thin, flexible, blown poly film used for containing waste for packaging, disposal, and for storing and transporting foods, products, powders, ice, chemicals, etc.

Plastic bags have advantages and disadvantages when compared to alternatives such as paper bags,cloth/jute bags and cardboard boxes. The durability, strength, low cost, water and chemicals resistance, welding properties, lesser energy and heavy chemicals requirements in manufacture, fewer atmosphere emmisions and light weight are advantages of plastic bags. Plastic polymers including poly bags, bottles, foam cups, pipes, toys, TV and PC cases and more, account for about 20 percent (by volume) of landfill space. However, non-biodegradable bags fill landfill sites and make for long-lasting litter, which in particular is dangerous to wildlife away from centers of human population, due mostly to virgin resin cheap price when compared to other flexible packagings and this low price tend to be under-enthusiastic to recyclers.

Plastic Waste Management in India

Plastic goods after completion of their useful life find their way into waste. The phenomenal growth of plastics and their consumption in terms of products of short and intermediate life span have resulted in significant generation of waste.

Separation of waste at home has been met with an enthusiastic response. Rolf Annenberg, former Director General of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Swedish EPA), once remarked that "people seem to be passionate about their waste". As pointed out by Jerry Powell, Editor of the Resource Recycling magazine (1994), "Plastics have become a major threat due to their non-biodegradability and high visibility in the waste stream. Their presence in the waste stream poses a serious problem when there is lack of efficient end of life management of plastic waste".

Plastic waste has attracted widespread attention in India, particularly in the last five years, due to the widespread littering of plastics on the landscape of India. The environmental issues due to plastic waste arise predominately in a system. Problems have been identified in the collection, transportation and disposal, and these primarily arise due to the inefficiency of the municipalities and municipal corporations.

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The waste pickers constitute a formal system who values much plastic waste since it represents a source of livelihood. However, plastic carry bags do not figure in their priorities, because collecting them is not profitable. This is because the rewards do not match the efforts required for collection, and this leads to plastic bags continuing to pose a major threat to the environment. With the formal and informal sector failing to collect such waste, India's landscape is littered, with poly bags dominating the litter. Poly bags in particular have been a focus, because it has contributed to host of problems in India such as choked sewers, animal deaths and clogged soils.

This is not the case with many developing countries like India where municipal services are limited. The failure to provide adequate collection services poses a serious threat to human health in India. Yet, it should be noted finances and ever increasing demand on urban services handicap municipal services in India. In fact, it is the poor who derive their living from waste who demonstrate better efficiency in collecting waste and perform the important task of segregating waste that can be recycled from biodegradable waste.

These pits of rotting waste generate methane, which cannot be tapped or used without regular soil cover. During monsoons, rain dissolves the toxins present in the waste that permeates the soil and pollutes groundwater.

Besides littering, problems also exist in the plastic recycling industry in India. Plastic recycling presents a unique scenario in India. The recycling units are dispersed between the formal and the informal sector. Poly bag recycling is carried out predominantly by the informal units, which are characterized by outdated technologies, unskilled labor, and poor health and safety conditions for workers. Hence the quality of the recycled products from this sector is very poor.

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Consequences of Using Poly bags

There are various environmental and social problems related to plastics in India. Extensive use of plastic in packaging has significantly contributed to the litter problem in the country. Some of the main issues that have been associated with poly bags in this respect are as follows:

i) Choked Soil

Poly bags are non-biodegradable, which means that they do not dissolve or disintegrate into the soil. Besides, they are non-porous, and do not allow the free flow of water and air, thereby choking plants. In India, when open dumping grounds are filled, they are leveled out and converted into parks. If the waste has non-biodegradable garbage like plastic bags, there is a risk of loss of biodiversity. Since the soil was full of non-biodegradable material, predominantly plastic bags, the trees could not anchor themselves firmly into the ground. When high velocity winds blow over the city during the monsoon season, the trees get uprooted, thus destroying flora (Times of India, 2001).

ii) Choked Drains

Choked drains are a serious hazard caused by the poly bags. Because of their lightness, poly bags choke the drains, thereby causing water logging and inconvenience to the citizens. Further, infection and disease also become rampant as a result of the water stagnation.

iii) Animal Deaths

Since cows are allowed freely to graze close to the bins in India, they ingest the plastics along with organic waste in it. Poly bags kill animals by obstructing their intestine. If the blocking is complete, the animal is unable to eat and dies.

In addition to the cows, the coastal creatures like turtles are also affected as they mistake the multi colored poly bags for jellyfishes. As they ingest them, their intestines are blocked and metabolism is impaired.

Since plastic bags are cheap, the vendor or retailer hands them out generously to the consumers. Since these carry bags can be reused only once or twice, they soon end up in the garbage bins. The short life span of the carry bag as well as improper collection and disposal, leads to the compounding problems mentioned above.

iii) Food Hazard

In addition to contributing to litter, poly bags, particularly recycled poly bags pose a major health hazard. The main hazards are associated with the chemicals used to color plastic bags. Small amounts of lead and cadmium are added during the manufacture, and these could permeate into food products stored in the bags. The recycler may sell poly bags for use only as a carry bag, but the vendors are unaware, of the risks of packing food products in colored plastics.

In essence poly bags are a nuisance since they are not collected. Poly bags remain an unattractive economic proposition for the waste pickers. In towns, cities and tourist centers, plastic bags have become a plague, and attempts to prevent this have come forth from the State, Central Government and NGOs.

Factors Motivating Pro-Environmental Behavior

Pro-environmental behavior is commonly perceived as morally related. If a person is aware of the consequences of certain behavior, the ascription of personal responsibility becomes crucial to change his behavior.

Information and awareness has great impact on the behavior of human beings. Once understood through external environment people are motivated to take certain actions, for instance, people might install energy efficient lights, recycle bottles and newspapers by recycled products. In getting people to do so, there is a need to motivate people to make behavioral changes.

To measure public concern for the environment and to understand what are the factors that motivate people to engage in pro-environment behavior. Once needs to understand intrinsic and extrinsic psychological factors that influence the behavior of the people.

Intrinsic Factors

Intrinsic factors are related to autonomous motivations i.e. the decision to act is freely decided upon by the individual attitudes and responsibility towards the environment. Attitudes is a tendency to evaluate an entity such as an object or an idea in a positive or negative way. Attitude formation is 'an ongoing process: they are formed before a behavior is performed (i.e. based on knowledge and values which the individual holds) and after the behavior is carried out (i.e. based on direct experience). People feel either morally or conventionally responsible for the environment.

Extrinsic Factors

Extrinsic factors are external motivational techniques. These techniques use behavioral strategies such as information, reinforcement etc to induce behavioral change.

Information, Knowledge and Conviction

Providing information about an ecological issue and the practices that can be done in order to alleviate this problem is a commonly used strategy in environmental projects. This is important because knowledge about how to dispose plastic bags is obviously a necessary condition for an individual to do so and a lack of it is perceived as a behavioral barrier. These information strategies take the form of information letters, pamphlets, television and radio programs etc. A more effective method to change reported attitudes and intentions regarding particular behaviors are educational workshops. However, it is often the case, that these intentions are then not changed into actions.

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The other techniques are to motivate people to change behavioral patterns.

Economic Incentives

Unit pricing is a market based collection scheme. This scheme gives only an indirect incentive to recycle while its direct incentive is to reduce waste quantities. Another desirable outcome of unit pricing besides recycling is that households adjust their purchase habits to generate less solid waste.

Reinforcement Technique

Reinforcement techniques are usually developed after the problem arises and seeks to provide an incentive for change. Positive reinforcement uses rewards and Negative reinforcement offers relief from a noxious situation in exchange for desirable behavior.

Feedback Technique

Feedback provides information about the relative effectiveness of different behaviors and may also act as a reinforcer because it provides competency information, that is, it tells people when they are doing a good job.

Convenience and Situational Factors

Convenience refers to the possibility of doing an activity with little effort or difficulty. Situational factors are often related to convenience like, for example, distance to recycling centre. Situational factors also refer to the types of dwellings where participants live and the space available at home to carry out this practice. Situational factors often impose limitations that people have little control on. When implementing a policy, the design of the system used communicates intentions and priorities.

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Socio-demographic Factors

Demographic trends like population, age structure, single households, labor force, more/less hours of work etc and other aspects like education, cultural values have all been examined with the aim of determining their correlation with pro-environmental behavior (OECD, 2002).

Participation in Decision Making

This means that the public is involved at the implementation stages of a policy thus dividing the responsibility for action from the responsibility of decision-making (Eden S. 1996).

Ecologically responsible consumer behavior may be characterized as both morally and intellectually different and demanding and it is around here that in certain situations, where choosing the ecologically responsible behavioral alternative require more time, money, effort or other resources than the non-environment friendly alternatives. The moral and intellectual difficulties of taking responsibility for environmental protection not only encourage consumers of plastic carry bags to consciously deny their personal responsibility for environmental protection by assuming the role of free rider (environmental hazards are often produced through a great number of anonymous consumers acting independently. Each consumer contributes to harm only marginally. Therefore, consumers in real choice situations tend to act as free riders although they have strong environmental preference), but also provide consumers with justifications or means for defensive denial of personal responsibility of their environmentally harmful behaviors.

The Research Problem

Delhi government laid a ban on the colored plastic bags along with those whose thickness is less than 20 microns? But in the absences of strict delegation of rules and laws such bans become meaningless. Why the attitude of even those people who when go out of the country became very particular about their garbage and do not throw a single bit of paper on the road, but in India they do not think twice before throwing their garbage on the roadside. What are those motivational complexities, which put certain constraints in front of the people to behave so irresponsibly towards environment? The critical barrier to ecologically responsible consumer behavior, include consumers reluctance to pay the higher costs not only as money but also in terms of time and effort usually associated with the alternatives of plastic carry bags, as well as their willingness to accept certain sacrifices in the susceptibly prescribed quality of the product variants.

To choose the environmentally sound alternatives, ecologically oriented consumer should ideally have this informatics to be able to determine the total impact of each product considering the entire life cycle of the product on the environment. In spite of awareness regarding the environmental hazard due to plastic bags for their excessive use and improper disposal, people continue to do the same and no governance is able to stop this behavior of masses. The purpose of this research is to analyze and discuss the factors responsible for ecologically.

Objectives of the Study

The objective of this research is

a) To analyze the factors responsible for using plastic bags by the consumers.

b) To identify the important psychological barriers to a more widespread adoption of ecologically sustainable life styles.

Methods of Study

Questionnaire

The questionnaires designed are classified as Primary and Selective motives, which constitutes motivations for the behavior. Questions related to ability are classified as Resources and External factors. There are twenty two questions in the questionnaire.

Sample

The individuals who use plastic carry bags for one or the other purpose in daily routine are identified as major users of plastic bags. The major users identified for study are housewives, professionals, students, lower income group people and people working in different institutes in Delhi and NCR. From each of the groups' convenient sample was drawn randomly from households, government offices, hospitals, courts, public places, universities, schools, from roadsides, etc. Consumers of plastic bags were grouped as Housewives, Students, Professionals, Lower-income group and People working in the institute.

Sample of 200 housewives was drawn from various parts of NCR. 100 students were chosen from MCD schools, universities, colleges, and institutes. For lower income group category, sample of 100 was drawn from rickshaw puller, rag pickers, kawadiwalas, and auto driver, peon, and slum dwellers. 100 professionals in NCR were interviewed for this purpose. A sample of 100 people working in the various institutes was drawn from the last category.

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Procedure

Primary data were collected through questionnaire for 700 consumers of different segments of society comprising housewives, professionals, students, institutes, and lower income groups residing in Delhi and NCR.

Data Analysis

The descriptive statistics depicting the pattern of reaction towards the use of plastic bags for various segments were reported in frequencies. Analysis of summary reveals (1) the dominating motives both primary and selective (2) the most influential resources and external factors for each of the categories (Table I and II).

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In order to find out the strength and direction of different motives, simple correlation is calculated, resulting in a correlation matrix for all the motives (Table III).

The matrix is developed separately for each of the groups of respondents as shown in tables. Correlation matrix reveals the interrelation ship between all motives explaining, if there one motive influences other one. Finally, factor analysis with varimax rotation was done to understand the most contributory motives in behavior of individuals. Four factors were extracted in with all consumers and for each segment. The data then clubbed according to identify four major factors affecting the behavior of the respondents as consumers of plastic bags.

Results

The data analysis followed an overall as well as segment wise analysis for the consumers of the plastic bags (Table IV).

As it is shown in Table IV and V, where all the groups i.e. all users, professionals, housewives, students, and institutes, except the group of lower income group people shows a high percentage of awareness. It is found that except lower income group they all have the knowledge that plastic bags are a threat to environment, they are not biodegradable, a source of litter, not easily brokendown and very harmful for plants and animals. Mostly they all consider cloth/jute bags as a best alternative for plastic bag.

Awareness is found less among the people of lower income group. Most of them are living below the poverty line and usually reuse plastic bags as a fuel while preparing the food. Most of them know that it is harmful for plants and animals as compared to other harmful consequences.

It is found from the responses that why awareness is not limiting people to use plastic bags in a lesser amount and dispose it properly.

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The overall response patterns of the consumers on the use of plastic bags are as follows:-

76.4 per cent of individuals considered use of plastic carry bag are a major threat to environment. 80.7per cent of the respondents know that polythene bags are not biodegradable and are hazardous to the environment. 40.3per cent choose paper bags and 57.6per cent choose cloth/ jute bags as an alternative to plastic bags. 76.4per cent think plastic bags as source of litter. 69.3per cent are aware of the fact that plastic carry bags are non-biodegradable. 83.3per cent disagree that plastic bags are harmful for plants and animals whereas 16.6per cent are not aware of such consequences. Responses for selective motives did not show any clear pattern. However, 65per cent of the respondents want to motivate their children to use paper/cloth bags. Though the resource factors such as reuse of plastic bag, disposal places and consequences do not reveal very clear motives, 54.4per cent think that the use of plastic bag is an environmental hazard.

While analyzing the response pattern segment wise e.g. , housewives, professionals, lower income group, students and people working in the institutes, their motives did differ. The following statistics is based on the maximum frequency responses by the participants. While explaining the primary motives, it is observed that, almost all segments do agree on the point that, using plastic bags is a major threat to environment with the percentages of responses ranging between 52 (lower income group) to 93 (Students). Plastic bags are not biodegradable- all segments agree on this with percentage of response varying from 53 (lower income group) to 93 (students). The use of cloth/jute bags as an alternative to plastic bags, though appreciated, but the percentage of responses vary between 50.5 (housewives) to 64 (students). Plastic bags are certainly a source of litter shared by all groups with percentages ranging from 43 (lower income group) to 95 (students). Plastic carry bags can take hundreds of years to break down was agreed upon by all with the percentages varying from 43 (lower income group) to 80 (students). Plastic bags cause harm to plants and animals, is shared by all segments of consumers with the percentages varying from 66 (lower income group) to 97 (students).

Analysis of selective motives revealed that 35per cent of professionals (maximum) and 33per cent of students (maximum) thinking of attending programs hosted by government and activists on campaigning against use and disposal of plastic carry bags as pollution generated due to improper disposal is dangerous for the environment. 48.5per cent housewives and 50per cent lower income group never attended any such program as revealed by them. Plastic bags cause visual pollution, was agreed upon by the participants with percentages ranging from 47 (lower income group) to 86 (institution). What motivates people to use plastic bags? 32per cent of professional and 37per cent of students respectively opined that, it is convenient to use as against 42.5per cent of housewives and 35per cent of lower income group participants who said, it is a part of shopping. Plastic bags are harmful for our health, but the shopkeeper is quite comfortable with it, what would be the reaction if shopkeeper doesn't change his behavior, when asked to the participants, they unanimously reported that, others are using and shopkeeper is giving, so I will not bother. The percentages vary from 27 (lower income group) to 57 (students). While asked about the disposal pattern, interesting results found , where housewives, professionals, students and institutional members want to throw it on the roadside, with percentages varying from 41(institution) to 61.5 (professionals), whereas lower income group members want to throw it nearby garbage yard (50per cent). As an initial response an average of 35.9 per cent of consumers want to see a charge or levy on plastic bags at the point of sale with the range varying from 37per cent (low income group) to 66per cent (professionals), whereas 62per cent students and 42per cent institutional members want to see a ban on non-biodegradable plastic carry bags made available to the public. How often the consumers motivate their children to use paper bags or cloth bags, when asked, all segments responded that, they always motivate their children with percentages varying from 33 (students) to 68.5 (housewives).

On the available resources and their uses, interesting findings came out. While asked about the reuse of plastic bags for purposes like shopping, to carry lunch box, as general carry bag or as bin liner, surprisingly all segments of consumers agree that they reuse it with percentages varying from 83 (students) to 100 (housewives) with an average of 95.8per cent. Is it easy to throw? 50.5per cent professionals and 61per cent students respectively disagreed while 37.5per cent housewives 35per cent low income group and 66per cent institutional members respectively agreed on this. The response towards hazardous environment created by a factory, when asked, almost all participants opined to protest against the cause with percentages varying from 42(low income group) to 66 (institutional members).

Whether external factors play a role in the use of plastic bags, when asked, the participants gave a mixed opinion. 59per cent professionals and 48per cent institutional members said there will be a change in shopping pattern if non-biodegradable plastic bags were banned. However, 76per cent housewives, 63per cent students and 53per cent low income group members viewed there will be no change in their shopping pattern. Campaign against plastic bags is a major step to create awareness among the public. Active participation in such activities was reflected by 55.5per cent professionals, 57per cent students and 58per cent institutional members. 45.5per cent housewives wished to motivate others to join the campaign. However, 44per cent of low income group members showed no interest in such kinds of activities. Whether carrying a plastic bag is a matter of prestige, when asked, almost 50 percent of the participants unanimously rejected the idea. Do family members discourage using plastic bags, when asked, 51.5per cent housewives opined that such behaviors are never discouraged, while rest of the segments opined that sometimes they are discouraged. Whether your colleagues, friends or relatives carry plastic bags, when asked, a mixed response came from the participants. 77per cent housewives, and 83per cent low income group said all of them carry plastic bags. However, 55per cent professionals and 49per cent students said some of their friends, relatives, and colleagues carry plastic bags.

The theoretical dimensions identified for the construction of the questionnaire and subsequent data collection from the participants, again factor analyzed to examine the empirically emerging factors contributing to the variance. The factor analysis for all the consumers resulted in a five factor solution explaining 39.378per cent of variance. Factor -1 explains 12.2per cent of variance which is shared by reactions towards plastic bags, duty towards children, response to hazardous environment and family pressure variables. Factor-2 explains 10.8per cent of variance which is shared by threat to environment and non biodegradable variables. Third factor explained 7.3per cent of variance which is shared by source of litter and harm plants, animals variables. Factor-4 explained 6.6per cent of variance which is shared by other alternatives, visual pollutions and easy to throw variables. The last factor explained 6.3per cent of variances shared by ban on plastic bags. In spite of suitability of factor analysis, it is difficult to label the factors. However, this grouping can be useful for designing awareness campaign and policies. Further, segment wise factor analysis added more information for the labeling of factors.

Data collected from housewives, professionals, students, low income group, and institutional members were also factor analyzed. The percentages of variances explained by these segments were 39.378, 38.898, 40.261, 45.045 and 38.898 respectively. However, while analyzing the factors independently from each segment, they almost match to the independent factors identified for the whole group of consumers. The factor naming was done accordingly by taking the common variables in any factor for all consumers as well as for all the segments. Finally, the four factors have been identified and labeled as Environmental Awareness, Active Participation, Health Hazards, and Alternative Choice.

Environmental awareness factor explains issues like the threats due to use of plastic bags, as they are not biodegradable and not easily break down. As a result, they harm plants, animals and facilitate soil erosion. The other variable which is highly associated with this factor is that, use of plastic bags by friends and relatives, often reinforces this behavior.

The second factor named as active participation is related to active individual involvement, and participation for the cause of a safe environment. Active participation involves, raising voice against environmental challenges due to factories, and teaching people in the community and in the society how to save environment by avoiding the use of plastic bags or by using other biodegradable materials. It also entails awareness in the family and motivating children to use paper/cloth bags.

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Use of plastic bags poses serious health hazards like cancer, as reflected in the third factor. Among the behavioral dimensions responsible for health hazards include the carelessness in throwing plastic bags on the road side, indifference towards active campaign against use of plastic bags. These behaviors became directly or indirectly responsible for certain health hazards like, eye sore, visual pollution etc.

The fourth factor reflects a kind of helplessness on the part of the consumers as they are not left with varieties of other biodegradable materials to choose from. Had there been other choices available plentiful in the market place like cloth bags or jute bags or paper bags, the situation could have been altered. Also associated with this factor, another behavioral dimension is people's attitude of making a dirty place dirtier by throwing anything or everything they like.

Discussion and Recommendations

Ecologically oriented behavior is a complex interplay of diverse motives. People do behave in varieties of ways that affects both the individual as well as the environment. What seems more important in different behavioral expressions is the basic human nature i.e., seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The study revealed very interesting findings when different segment of consumers responses were analyzed. Plastic bag use is a major threat is agreed by almost all consumer groups. However, students are far ahead than other groups and lower income groups lack the desired awareness. Hence, awareness campaign on the use of plastic bags and its harmful consequences can be best achieved if students take a lead in this endeavor. As students keep themselves updated on such issues as part of their curriculum, least training is required for them to create awareness in the community. This will help in saving extra financial burden on the part of GOs and NGOs, as training human resources mean extra expenditure.

When it comes to people's participation in activities like awareness campaign, the result is quite pessimistic. Only students and professionals show their interest in such kind of activities and that to a meager percentage of 33 and 37 respectively. This may be because of our preoccupation with so many other kinds of jobs that we hardly find any time to think about our environment or we are too casual about the consequences or we cannot perceive any such threats as long as we don't hear the alarm. Housewives and low income group members lack the awareness and the motivation to engage in ecologically oriented behavior is well pronounced in the data. Hence, appropriate measure should be taken for these target groups. It is the convenience what drives people to use plastic bags were shared by professionals and students, where as other groups say it is a part of shopping. This perception shows the carelessness of the so called knowledge workers. It seems easier to change the behavior of other groups who are not so convinced that plastic bags are convenient to use, rather they perceive it as a part of shopping as opposed to the student and professionals, who perceive it other way. Hence, if we say that lower income group lack awareness for which they are using plastic bags, what about the so called literate and educated mass, who are using it for their convenience. This needs serious attention both at the public and the private level to educate both the groups in proper direction as their motives differ. This also draws our attention to the need based training programs or awareness campaigns for different groups of interest.

However, on another aspect of responsible behavior, all consumers fall in one group, when asked what prompted them to use plastic bags after knowing that, it is harmful for both health and environment, they said 'others' are using it and the 'shopkeeper' is also giving, so I will not bother. This is in fact a challenge for the policy makers and voluntary organizations engaged in educating people on environment friendly behavior. To what extent the training program translated to an observable change in behavior, is a big question. Hence, as long as people don't take responsibility for their behavior, this situation will not alter.

Consumers wish to see a stricter rule or ban on the use of plastic bag by the government or any other competent authority and they also motivate their children to use paper or cloth bags. However, availability and convenience guides their behavior and they fall in the trap. Government should promote the paper and cloth bags industry to flourish, keeping in view the environmental issues and discourage the use of any material causing harm to human health and environment. Most of the consumers feel that, it is easy to reuse and also easy to throw. Engagement of the public in activities like protest against industries creating pollution in the environment should be appreciated.

Sometimes external factors like control mechanisms at the policy level, awareness campaigns, other people's behavior do affect the behavior of consumers. Hence understanding the complex web of human behavior is not an easy task. But, whatever information we get from the surveys like this, we should capitalize on them to achieve our objectives. The four factors e.g., environmental awareness, active participation, health hazards and alternative choices identified empirically in the survey will serve as a ready reference for the policy makers and social workers on charting out a plan of action in the direction of promoting ecologically oriented behavior. Finally, one should remember that, it is the action and not the knowledge of the action that works, and ensure the behavioral practices that produce the desired results.

References

Aberg, H. Sustainable Waste Management in Households--from International Policy to Everyday Practice. Experiences from two Swedish Field Studies. Goteborg Studies in Educational Sciences 150, Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 2000.

Bell, P.A. Greene T.C., Fisher J.D. and Baum A., Environmental Psychology, 4 th Edition, USA: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. 1996.

Down to Earth, Garbage: Your Problem, January 31, 2001 (online), Available: http://ww.oneworld.org/cse/html/dte20000131/dte_analy.htm. (11 June 2001).

Eden S. Public Participation in Environmental Policy: Considering Scientific, Counter-Scientific and Non-scientific contributions, Public understanding 5: 182-204., 1996

G.T. Gardner and Stern, Environmental Problems and Human Behaviour, Boston: Allyn and Bacon., 1996

Kaiser, F.G. and Shimoda, T.A., Responsibility as a Predictor of Ecological Behavior, Journal of Environmental Psychology 19, 243-253., 1999

OECD, Sectot case studies series, Household Energy and Water Consumption and Waste Generation: Trends, Environmental Impacts and Policy Responses, 2002 (online: http:/www.olis.oecd.org/olis/doc.nsf/linkto/envepocwpnep (2001)15-final),2001.

see http://www.iiiee. lu.se/publication.nsf/$weball/ 7502cc39f791faa6c1256be90031be75/$file/priyanarayan.pdf; Analysing Plastic Waste Management in India; Case study of Polybags and PET bottles.

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WHO, Our Planet Our Health, Report of the WHO Commission on Health and the Environment, World Health Organisation, Geneva., 1992

Dr. Seema Sanghi

Director

FORE School of Management, New Delhi.
Table I
Responses of all Consumers

            Qs.
            No.   Motives                  Percentage of Responses

Primary
motive                                   A      B      C      D     E

             1    Threat to            16.3   76.4    6
                  environment
             2    Not biodegradable    80.7   10.6    8.7
             4    Other alternatives   93.7
             8    Source of litter     76.4   17.7    5.7
            11    Not easily           69.3    8.2   21.3
                  breakdown
            16    Harm plants,         83.3    8.7    7.9
                  animals
Selective
motive

             3    Participation        38.9   38.1   11.2    2     9.7
             7    Motives behind       31.7   20.7   25.4   21.7
                  usage
             5    Visual pollution     45.7   15.9   10.3   28.8
             9    Reaction towards      6.7   52     33.9    7.4
                  plastic bags
            10    Disposal pattern     43.3   24.4   28      4
            12    Reaction to paper    30.7   55.7   12.3    1.3
                  bag
            17    Initial response     35.9   31.7   25      0.4
            22    Duty towards         65     12.6   19.6    2.4
                  child
Resources
available

             6    Reuse of plastic     95.8    4.2
                  bags
            13    Easy to throw at
                  an untidy place
            14    Response towards     37.7   35     23.4    3.8
                  Hazardous            54.4   15.1   15.6    8
                  environment
External
factor
            15    Response on          39     56.9    3.9    0.3
                  shopping pattern
            18    Campaign against     47     19.6   32.7    0.6
                  plastic bags
            19    Prestige             22     48.9   28.9    0.3
            20    Family influence     14.3   39.6   46      0.1
            21    Friend influence      5.4   56.3   36.1    2.1

Table II
Most Preferred Responses for All Consumers

             Qs.                            Maximum
             No.   Motives                  Responses   Options
Primary
motive

             1     Threat to environment    76.4        Major problem
             2     Not biodegradable        80.7        Agree
             4     Other alternatives       57.6        Cloth/jute bag
             8     Source of litter         76.4        Agree
             11    Not easily breakdown     69.3        Agree
             16    Harm plants, animals     83.3        Agree

Selective
motive

             3     Participation            38.9        Never attended
             5     Visual pollution         45.7        Agree
             7     Motives behind usage     31.7        Part of
                                                        shopping
             9     Reaction towards         52          Others are also
                   plastic bags                         using so I will
                                                        not bother
             10    Disposal pattern         43.3        Throw it on the
                                                        road side
             12    Reaction to paper bag    55.7        Ask for plastic
                                                        bag
             17    Initial response         35.9        A charge at the
                                                        point of sale
             22    Duty towards child       65          Always

Resources
available

             6     Reuse of plastic bags    95.8        Reuse them
             13    Easy to throw at an      37.7        Disagree
                   untidy place
             14    Response towards         54.4        Protest against
                   Hazardous environment                the cause

External
factor

             15    Changes in shopping      56.9        No change in
                   pattern                              shopping
                                                        pattern
             18    Campaign against         47          Motivate others
                   plastic bags                         to join the
                                                        campaign
             19    Prestige                 48.9        Not related to
                                                        prestige
             20    Family pressure for      46          Never
                   not Using plastic bags
             21    Related others carry     56.3        All

Table III
Rotated Component Matrix for All Consumers

Motives                            Component

                        1       2       3         4       5

Threat to environment           0.697
Not biodegradable               0.681
Other alternatives                                0.521
Source of litter                        0.539
Not easily breakdown
Harm plants, animals                    0.542
Motives behind usage
Reaction towards        0.607
  plastic bags
Disposal pattern
Reaction to paper bag
Initial response
Duty towards child      0.654
Visual pollution                                  0.575
Easy to throw                                    -0.725
Response to hazardous   0.67
  environment
Ban on plastic bags                                       0.718
Campaign against
  plastic bags
Prestige
Family pressure for     0.542
  Relatives using

Variance Explained      12.2    10.8    7.3       6.6     6.3

Total variance                          39.378
  explained
Kaiser--Meyer-Olkin                     0.817
  Measure of Sample
  Adequately
Bartlett's test of
  sphericity
                        Approx.                           1506.463
                        Chi- Square
                        d f                               190
                        Sig                               0

Table IV
Maximum Responses of all Consumers for Primary Motives

                                        Highest
Group/qs no    Specific Motives         %         Responses

All Users

1              Threat to environment    76.4      major problem
2              Not biodegradable        80.7      agree
4              Other alternatives       57.6      cloth/jute bag
8              Source of litter         76.4      Agree
11             Not easily breakdown     69.3      Agree
16             Harm plants, animals     83.3      Agree

Professional

1              Threat to environment    81.5      major problem
2              Not biodegradable        86.5      Agree
4              Other alternatives       57.5      cloth/jute bag
8              Source of litter         84.5      Agree
11             Not easily breakdown     74.5      Agree
16             Harm plants, animals     89.5      Agree

Housewives

1              Threat to environment    74.5      major problem
2              Not biodegradable        78        Agree
4              Other alternatives       50.5      cloth/jute bag
8              Source of litter         73.5      Agree
11             Not easily breakdown     73.5      Agree
16             Harm plants, animals     80        Agree

Students

1              Threat to environment    93        major problem
2              Not biodegradable        93        Agree
4              Other alternatives       64        cloth/jute bag
8              Source of litter         95        Agree
11             Long time to breakdown   80        Agree
16             Harm plants, animals     97        Agree

LIG

1              Threat to environment    52        major problem
2              Not biodegradable        53        Agree
4              Other alternatives       61        cloth/jute bag
8              Source of litter         43        Agree
11             Long time to breakdown   43        Agree
16             Harm plants, animals     66        Agree

Institute

1              Threat to environment    78        major problem
2              Not biodegradable        90        Agree
4              Other alternatives       62        cloth/jute bag
8              Source of litter         81        Agree
11             Long time to breakdown   66        Agree
16             Harm plants, animals     81        Agree

Table-V
Responses of all Consumers for Selective Motives

Qno            Specific Motives     Percentage of responses

All
Users                               A      B      C      D       E

3              Participation        38.9   38.1   11.2   2      9.7
7              Motives behind       31.7   20.7   25.4   21.7
               usage
5              Visual pollution     45.7   15.9   10.3   28.8
9              Reaction towards     6.7    52     33.9   7.4
               plastic bags
10             Disposal pattern     43.3   24.4   28     4
12             Reaction to paper    30.7   55.7   12.3   1.3
               bag
17             Initial response     35.9   31.7   25     0.4
22             Duty towards child   65     12.6   19.6   2.4

Housewives

3              Participation        48.5   39.5   8.5
7              Motives behind       42.5   18.5   22     16.5
               uses
5              Visual pollution     68.5   12     19
9              Reaction towards     43     21     14     22
               plastic bags
10             Disposal pattern     4.5    53     36.5   6
12             Reaction to paper    47.5   28     21.5   3
               bag
17             Initial response     27     59     14
22             Duty towards child   35.5   34.5   28.5   1.5

Professional

3              Participation        34     35     12            19
7              Motives behind       28     15     24.5   32
               usage
5              Visual pollution     68.5   10.5   21
9              Reaction towards     51.5   12            36
               plastic bags
10             Disposal pattern     9.5    61.5   23.5   5.5
12             Reaction to paper    46.5   15.5   34.5   3.5
               bag
17             Initial response     28.5   66     5.5
22             Duty towards child   50.5   36     13.5

Student

3              Participation        21     33     15     6      25
7              Motives behind       27     18     17     37
               usage
5              Visual pollution     48     8      27     15
9              Reaction towards     57     3      8      32
               plastic bags
10             Disposal pattern     4      44     44     8
12             Reaction to paper    50     14     30     6
               bag
17             Initial response     24     62     5      9
22             Duty towards         33     14     5
               child

LIG

3              Participation        50     41     9
5              Visual pollution     47     29     24
7              Motives behind       35     32     31     2
               usage
9              Reaction towards     27     25     24     24
               plastic bags
10             Disposal pattern     4      50     36     10
12             Reaction to paper    21     48     25     6
               bag
17             Initial response     38     37     25
22             Duty towards child   15     37     48

Institute

3              Participation        36     44     14     3
7              Motives behind       19     28     37     16
               uses
5              Visual pollution     86     6      6      1
9              Reaction towards     47     13     11     29
               plastic bags
10             Disposal pattern     11     41     37     11
12             Reaction to paper    44     22     29     3      2
               bag
17             Initial response     42     41     17     1
22             Duty towards child   31     30     38
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