Breaking the Plastic Habit: Drivers of Single-Use Plastic Reduction Among Thai University Students

The pervasive use of single-use plastics (SUP) has emerged as a critical environmental concern globally. In the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand grapples with significant plastic waste challenges, making it imperative to understand and foster behaviours that reduce plastic consumption. This study sheds light on this pressing issue by exploring the psychosocial factors influencing SUP reduction among Thai university students. The study is pivotal for its insights into the dynamic process of behaviour change within an academic setting, offering valuable lessons for environmental policy and educational strategies.

Context and Methodology

The study focuses on university students in Thailand, a demographic that is both influential and representative of future societal leaders. The research utilizes the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) to assess students’ intentions and actions towards reducing SUP consumption. This integrated model approach allows for a nuanced analysis of the stages of behaviour change—from pre-contemplation to maintenance—and the impact of attitudes, perceived behavioural control, and subjective norms across these stages. The methodology encompasses a combination of confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modelling (SEM) to validate the theoretical framework and examine the causal relationships among the variables. The research was conducted with a sample of 317 undergraduate students from five major universities in Thailand. These students were chosen due to their informed perspectives on the environmental impacts of SUPs, as evidenced by preliminary findings from a pilot study.

Key Findings

The results reveal a complex landscape of behavioural intentions shaped by different psychosocial factors at various stages of the behaviour change process:

1. Attitudes: Positive attitudes towards reducing SUP were significant predictors of behavioural intention only in the contemplation phase, suggesting that while students recognize the benefits of reducing plastic use, this recognition does not always translate into action.

2. Perceived Behavioural Control: This was a consistent predictor across all stages, indicating that students’ beliefs in their ability to reduce plastic consumption significantly influence their behaviour. This factor had a stronger effect in the action phase, underscoring the role of self-efficacy in facilitating behaviour change.

3. Subjective Norms: These were particularly influential in the pre-contemplation phase, highlighting the importance of social influences and norms in shaping initial attitudes toward behaviour change.

The study also introduces the concept of “behavioural spillover,” suggesting that engaging in SUP reduction behaviours might encourage other pro-environmental actions, thereby enhancing overall environmental engagement among students.

Policy Implications and Recommendations

The findings have profound implications for policymakers and educational institutions aiming to promote environmental sustainability:

· Targeted Educational Campaigns: Universities should tailor their sustainability education and campaigns to align with the specific phases of behaviour change, emphasizing the development.

· Social Norms and Peer Influence: Initiatives that harness the power of social influence, such as student-led advocacy groups or peer-to-peer education programs, could be particularly effective in the initial stages of behaviour change.

· Behavioural Spillover: Educational programs should also consider the potential for behavioural spillover, encouraging students to adopt a broader range of sustainable practices beyond just SUP reduction.

The full details of this compelling study are available for those interested in a deeper dive into the study. Read more about the topic here.

This research not only contributes to our understanding of environmental behaviour among young adults in a university setting but also offers a blueprint for how educational institutions worldwide can foster a more sustainable future.

New publication: Pro-environmental behavior regarding single-use plastics reduction in urban–rural communities of Thailand: Implication for public policy

Pro-environmental behavior regarding single-use plastics reduction in urban–rural communities of Thailand: Implication for public policy

In our ever-evolving world, the conversation surrounding environmental sustainability has reached a pivotal point. Among the various environmental challenges we face, the issue of single-use plastics (SUP) stands out prominently. These materials, designed for convenience, have become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives, yet their environmental impact is staggering. Against this backdrop, a recent collaborative study sheds light on the dynamics of pro-environmental behavior (PB) concerning single-use plastic reduction in urban and rural communities of Thailand.

Published in the Nature journal portfolio “Scientific Reports”, the study delves into the intricate relationship between human behavior, societal norms, and environmental consciousness. Led by Oluseye Oludoye from Teesside University in collaboration with partners from Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), University of Lagos (Nigeria), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), and University of California Davis (USA), the study presents a comprehensive analysis of residents’ attitudes and actions towards reducing SUP usage, with a particular focus on food packaging.

Study Design and Methodology

The research team embarked on a multifaceted approach, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods to capture the nuances of pro-environmental behavior across diverse demographic landscapes. The study spanned two distinct locales in Thailand: the idyllic Sichang Island, representing a rural setting, and the bustling metropolitan area of Nonthaburi municipality in the city of Bangkok.

A total of 565 participants were surveyed, comprising 255 residents from Sichang Island and 310 from Nonthaburi city. Utilizing Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), the researchers analyzed the data to discern the underlying factors influencing individuals’ SUP reduction behavior.

Key Findings

The findings of the study offer intriguing insights into the drivers of pro-environmental behavior within different community contexts. While the prevailing assumption often attributes PB to rational decision-making processes, the study reveals a more complex interplay between rationality and morality models.

Interestingly, the results indicate that while morality emerged as a significant factor in justifying SUP reduction behavior across both rural and urban populations, the relative emphasis on rationality varied between the two settings. Rural residents demonstrated a stronger reliance on rational deliberations, whereas urban counterparts exhibited a greater alignment with moral norms in guiding their actions.

Implications for Policy and Future Research

The implications of this study extend beyond academic discourse, offering valuable guidance for policymakers and environmental advocates alike. By recognizing the distinct motivational drivers shaping individuals’ behaviors in different settings, policymakers can tailor interventions and initiatives to effectively target specific communities.

Furthermore, the study underscores the need for continued research in understanding the intricate interplay between human behavior, societal norms, and environmental stewardship. Future investigations could explore additional contextual factors and cultural influences to further refine our understanding of pro-environmental behavior dynamics.


As we navigate the complexities of environmental sustainability, studies like these serve as beacons of insight, illuminating the path towards a more sustainable future. By unraveling the multifaceted nature of pro-environmental behavior, this collaborative endeavor underscores the importance of holistic approaches in addressing pressing environmental challenges.

For those eager to delve deeper into the study, the full paper is available for reference here (, offering a comprehensive exploration of the intricate dynamics surrounding single-use plastic reduction in Thailand.

Let us embark on this journey of discovery and action, united in our commitment to safeguarding our planet and shaping a more sustainable future.

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Internal Talk – Dr Ernesto Saiz val

The group heard from Dr Ernesto Saiz val, with a talk entitled ‘N-biogeochemistry and new low-cost analytical methods for in-situ environmental monitoring’.

Ernesto’s work focuses on low cost, reliable and portable devices for soil field work, devices to measure pH, ammonia, potassium and nitrate were shown and a great explanation of the future potential of this work.

If you want to know more – see Dr Saiz Val’s research page –

New Publication: Diversity of selected toll-like receptor genes in cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) and African leopards (Panthera pardus pardus)

Leopards (Panthera pardus) and cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) face several threats including habitat destruction, human-wildlife conflict, and infectious disease. Dr Desiré Lee Dalton (Lecturer, Teesside University) and collaborators investigated the diversity of genes involved in the initial detection and defence against infectious diseases in modern Southern African cheetahs and leopards as well as historic cheetah samples and samples of different cheetah subspecies. We found that diversity was lower in cheetah than in leopards. In addition, historic cheetahs from all subspecies exhibited greater genetic diversity than modern Southern African cheetahs. Thus, indicating that cheetah have further lost diversity recently as a result of a population declines within the last 150 years. These results have identified that Southern African cheetahs may not be able survive future infectious diseases.


Access the publication through the publisher’s website with this link (

Seminer update – Dr Oluseye Oludoye

On 8th February 2024 we had a fascinating internal seminar talk by Dr Oluseye Oludoye on Pro-Environmental Behaviour Towards Sustainable Food Systems.

Oluseye introduced us to his research including pesticide, cocoa flavours, and plastic chemistry. The talk introduced the team to how people consider use of pesticide, but more importantly the impact of usage on the environment, including soil health. The talk encouraged the group to think about economics, biodiversity and climate change, a really thought provoking and insightful lunchtime session.

New paper: Rapid deterioration in buried leather: archaeological implications

This recent paper was the accumulation of work by Helga Halldorsdottir, huge data sets and some really novel results. The experiment set up was amazing..

Non-destructive FTIR-ATR analysis was applied to experimentally buried vegetable-tanned leather and archaeological leather excavated at the Roman site of Vindolanda, UK. Analyses focused on observing and monitoring changes in functional groups related to leather tannin, collagen and lipid components following burial. FTIR spectra were also collected from the tannin material and untanned hide, capturing the major structural differences between four stages of the leather material life cycle: The raw material, the tanned leather, the decaying buried leather, and archaeological leather.

Results highlighted rapid changes following experimental burial in wet soil, tentatively associated with early onset microbial activity, targeting readily available lipids but not tightly bound collagen. Before burial, major differences were present in leather spectra based on manufacture, but early after burial in wet soil, FTIR-ATR spectra indicated de-tanning could occur rapidly, especially in waterlogged conditions, with archaeological leather becoming more uniform and similar to untanned leather. Thus, comparison of FTIR-ATR results from archaeological leather to experimentally buried leather samples of known pre-burial manufacture proved useful, while comparison to FTIR-ATR data from modern unburied leather did not. Despite de-tanning occurring soon after burial, the vegetable-tanning method does impact long-term preservation of leather in wet soil. The impact could not be directly associated with the proportion of condensed to hydrolysable tannin, suggesting alternate variables impacted the preservation. Furthermore, mineral components introduced into the leather through the animal skin, tannin material and/or tannin liquid are tentatively suggested to contribute to this impact. A high degree of heterogeneity in error results within the experimentally buried sample material underlined that any changes in collagen ratios cannot be overinterpreted and must be considered within the context of larger datasets.

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Revitalizing Cocoa Production: Insights from the International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum in Abuja

by Oluseye Oludoye

Oluseye recently attended the International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, on January 9, 2024. and had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion on “The Importance of the Classification and Denomination of Cocoa with Investment in Increased Production Output.”

Introduction: The intersection of sustainable agriculture and economic development took center stage at the recent International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum held in Abuja, Nigeria, on January 9, 2024. The conference, themed “Putting Value in Cocoa in Producing Regions,” gathered experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to delve into the critical issues surrounding cocoa production. This blog post captures the highlights of the conference, focusing on the policy session where Dr Oluseye Oludoye contributed to a panel discussion on “The Importance of the Classification and Denomination of Cocoa with Investment in Increased Production Output.”

Setting the Tone: The Policy session opened with a declaration by Chief Olawale Edun, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy and the Honourary Chairman of the Forum. He emphasized the commitment of the Nigerian government, as outlined in the Renewed Hope Agenda spearheaded by Mr. President. This set a positive tone for the discussions that followed, underlining the significance of cocoa in the nation’s economic transformation.

Key Figures in Attendance: The conference boasted esteemed personalities, including the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, who declared the Forum open. Their presence underscored the government’s recognition of cocoa as a key player in economic growth. Additionally, the Honourable Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, served as the Special Guest of Honour. In his remarks, he highlighted the government’s commitment to implementing strategic plans, with a special focus on agriculture value addition strategies.

Panel Discussion: “The Importance of the Classification and Denomination of Cocoa with Investment in Increased Production Output”: Dr Oluseye Oludoye had the privilege of contributing to a panel discussion during the conference, specifically addressing the crucial topic of cocoa classification and denomination. Their discourse centered on the pivotal role accurate classification plays in attracting investment and fostering increased production output. They explored the potential impact of streamlined classification processes on the entire cocoa value chain, from farmers to consumers.

Commitment to Agriculture Value Addition Strategies: The Honourable Minister of Budget and Economic Planning emphasized the government’s dedication to creating a conducive environment for agricultural activities. This commitment extends beyond the mere production of cocoa to encompass comprehensive strategies for value addition within the agriculture sector. This approach aligns with the broader goal of empowering farmers and promoting sustainable practices.

Conclusion: The International Cocoa and Chocolate Forum in Abuja provided a platform for stakeholders to align their efforts towards advancing cocoa production in Nigeria. The commitment expressed by key government officials and the emphasis on value addition strategies signal a promising future for the cocoa industry. As researchers, it is crucial for us to delve deeper into the implications of these commitments and explore avenues for collaborative research that supports the sustainable growth of cocoa production in producing regions. By doing so, we contribute to the broader discourse on agricultural sustainability and economic development.

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Dr Lauren Rawlins

On 24 January 2024, the Earth & Environment Research Group welcomed external speaker, Dr Lauren Rawlins, who recently completed her PhD at the Department of Environment & Geography at the University of York. Lauren presented her PhD research investigating the impacts of climate change on the glaciers of Greenland. Through remote sensing of the Humboldt Glacier in northwest Greenland, Lauren observed significant seasonal surface melting extending 80 kilometres inland from the coast. The formation of pooled water and drainage networks on the glacier’s surface lowers the surface ‘albedo’ (meaning its ability to reflect incoming solar radiation) and contributes to more melting. The surface meltwater can also infiltrate down to the base of the glacier where it can speed up the ice sheet’s advance toward the comparatively warmer coast, leading to further melting. Lauren’s talk also took us down to SW Greenland where she performed uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and some remarkable 3-D mapping of the smaller, Russell glacier, to study the distribution and interactions of surface meltwater with ‘cryoconite’ (dark patches containing algae, black carbon, and other dark coloured particulates that reduce surface albedo).

Lauren’s talk was riveting and, her research, scientifically rigorous. Understanding the sensitivity of the Greenland ice sheet to external factors is critical for predicting future change.

At the end of Lauren’s talk, our own Dr Adrian Dye asked her if she could offer any advice to our PhD and prospective PhD students. Amongst several words of wisdom, Lauren emphasised the importance of having a good rapport with your supervisor, ensuring that the University is a good fit, and, once the PhD project is underway, avoid biting off more than you can chew to avoid burnout.

Lauren’s recent publication can be found here For members of the research group who missed Lauren’s talk, you can find the recording on the Teams site.

Welcome New lecturer – Dr Sina Longman

I am a palaeoclimatologist with a special interest in micropalaeontology, using microfossils, such as dinoflagellates and pollen, to reconstruct past oceanographic, terrestrial and climatic changes. More recently, I have expanded my research into vegetation reconstructions using pollen in speleothems (e.g. stalagmites). I am particularly interested in time periods in Earth history that were warmer than present in order to gain insights into environmental changes under continued future warming.

New staff member – Welcome Dr Danai-Maria Kontou

Danai is a lecturer and a researcher in human geography, with special interests in Polar Geography, Cartography and Creative Methods. Danai graduated with a Geography B.Sc. from the University of the Aegean and later has been a full scholarship grantee for the Cartography MSc (T.U. Munich, T.U Vienna, T.U. Dresden, and University of Twente). For her master’s thesis, she developed innovative three-dimensional visuals in cylindrical form for the time and space illustration of the anomalies of ice and vegetation in the Arctic. Her thesis has been published in the Journal “Regional Studies Regional Science”. She continued her academic journey with a PhD in Durham University, fully funded under the DurhamArctic Research Centre for Training and Interdisciplinary Collaboration. For her PhD “Arctic Cartographic Uncertainties”, Danai experimented with creative methods and art-science practices. Her current research interests include spatiotemporal analysis of environmental phenomena, story-map-telling, art-based research, along with her great enthusiasm on polar geography, remote sensing, and data visualisation.

In Teesside she is teaching: “Human Geography and Globalisation” and “Interpreting Environments”.