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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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.

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.

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”.

3rd Annual Tees Valley Youth Climate Conference

On 15 November 2023, Teesside University’s School of Health and Life Sciences, spearheaded by its Geoscience cluster, hosted the 3rd Annual Tees Valley Youth Climate Conference. In total, 70 sixth-form students from across the region and their teachers spent the day reviewing the evidence for anthropogenic forcing of climate change and exploring a wealth of options for building sustainable societies in the future.

At the start of the day, Keynote Speaker, Rachel Murtagh, Nature Partnership Manager of the Tees Valley Nature Partnership reflected on significant recent progress in restoring the Tees Valley’s natural environment from the ravages of the industrial era but underscored the need for ongoing and concerted positive action.

“Engaging in nature-based solutions offers numerous opportunities to collaborate with the planet in adapting to and mitigating climate change. Simultaneously, these approaches promote greater biodiversity and enhance human well-being by providing increased access to green spaces.”

Our own TU Earth & Environment Researchers spent the rest of the morning providing the evidence and varied solutions for climate change and, in the afternoon, led sustainability workshops on topics including food systems, renewable energy, and climate change communication.

We welcomed local industry (e.g., Northern Gas Networks, Biffa Waste Management) and charitable trust (e.g., Tees Rivers Trust, Durham Wildlife Trust, Middlesbrough Environment City) representatives who shared their climate-positive agendas with students over lunch. Several TU Environmental Management MSc students presented climate science posters.

The 3rd Annual Tees Valley Youth Climate Conference was highly successful and we look forward to hosting another one next year. If you are interested in booking a place for your students, please contact Kathryn Howard at

Sustainable Agriculture and Waste Management: A Path Towards Environmental Stewardship

On November 29, 2023, Environmental Research Society led by the MSc students hosted Dr Oluseye Oludoye. He presented on the topic titled “Sustainable Agriculture and Waste Management: A Path Towards Environmental Stewardship”. This presentation delves into the pivotal role of these interconnected practices in shaping environmental sustainability. In the pursuit of a sustainable and resilient future, the intersection of agriculture and waste management emerges as a critical nexus.

In the intricate dance of sustainable agriculture and waste management, individual behaviours become catalysts for change. He stated that our journey begins with understanding the symbiotic relationship between responsible agricultural practices and effective waste management.

Connecting the Dots: Sustainable agriculture is not merely a buzzword but a commitment to cultivating the land while preserving its essence. For instance, Dr Oluseye Oludoye’s research on pesticide safety behaviours among cocoa farmers underscores the significance of responsible agricultural practices ( By embracing sustainable farming methods, we protect ecosystems, foster biodiversity, and ensure the health of our soil.

Agricultural Sustainability: The adoption of sustainable agricultural practices contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Through practices like agroecology, we not only grow our food but also nurture a climate-friendly environment. He noted that our choices in agriculture have a direct impact on mitigating climate change, ensuring a healthier planet for generations to come.

Reducing Carbon Footprint: Beyond mitigating climate change, sustainable agriculture plays a pivotal role in preserving biodiversity. By choosing sustainable practices, we become stewards of the planet, maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems and ensuring the well-being of diverse plant and animal species.

Preserving Biodiversity: He encouraged the Environmental Research Society to serve as a beacon of change, empowering its members to drive transformative action. Armed with insights from our research at Earth and Environment Group, each member was encouraged to be an advocate for sustainable agriculture in their local communities. For example, by actively engaging in initiatives that promote responsible waste management, we sow the seeds of a greener future.

Empowering Change: He stated that the collective impact of individual choices cannot be overstated. Our call to action extends beyond personal behaviours to highlight the transformative power of united efforts. Through collaborative projects, advocacy initiatives, and global awareness campaigns, he emphasizes that every action, no matter how small, contributes to the global tapestry of sustainability.

Emphasizing Collective Impact: In concluding this exploration of sustainable agriculture and waste management, he reminded the society members that the choices we make today echo into the future. By embracing these practices, we cultivate not only a bountiful harvest but also a legacy of environmental stewardship for generations to reap. Let us, as members of the Environmental Research Society, be the custodians of change, nurturing a greener, more sustainable Earth for all. Together, we embark on a path towards environmental stewardship, one that honors the planet we call home.

Reviewing the triggers of an abrupt climate change event with Durham University’s Professor James Baldini

On 8 December 2023, our Earth & Environment Research Group joined up with Teesside University’s student-led Environmental Research Society, to host a virtual talk by Durham University’s Professor James Baldini. Professor Baldini’s talk entitled ‘Meltwater, meteors, and volcanoes: the elusive cause of the Younger Dryas Event’ tackled the still hotly debated cause of the Younger Dryas Event (YDE).

Following the Last Glacial Maximum, the Northern Hemisphere was steadily warming until an abrupt return to near glacial conditions around 12,870 years ago. This abrupt cold event is a subject of intense debate with three hotly contested theories: glacial meltwater flooding into the North Atlantic, a meteor impact, and a high-magnitude volcanic eruption.

During the talk, Professor Baldini skilfully navigated through the pros and cons of each potential trigger, providing a balanced perspective, and debunking some common misconceptions about the Younger Dryas Event. Whether you’re a seasoned enthusiast in Earth and environmental sciences or simply curious about our planet’s intriguing history, this talk offers a captivating exploration into not only this, but the many similar events that occurred over the past 80,000 years of Earth’s climate.

The recording of Professor Baldini’s talk is available on our research group Teams site but anyone can catch a similar talk by Professor Baldini on the Northeast Geological Society’s YouTube Channel here Don’t miss the chance to unravel the mysteries of the past and gain a deeper understanding of the forces that have shaped our planet.

Drilling underground – Dr Jens Holtvoeth

Last week, a team around Dr Jens Holtvoeth , including 3rd-year BSc students Connor Bishop and Matthew Oliver Jinks and environmental technician Miles Dimbleby, took part in this year’s Mine Analogue Research event (MINAR XI) at the UKRI Underground Laboratory in the ICL Polyhalite and Salt mine at Boulby. Every year, this two-week event brings together national and international teams of scientists, working on a wide range of subjects related to space exploration and extreme environments, for which the Underground Lab and its surroundings 1,000m below the surface provide ideal conditions.

The purpose of Team Teesside’s visit was to drill and recover intact large diameter salt cores from the so-called polygon layer. This deposit formed in the late Permian during the evaporation of the Zechstein Sea, about 250 million years ago, and is the main layer of halite (NaCl) at Boulby. It prominently features backfilled desiccation cracks from a sea-level lowstand that now appear as dark polygons in the ceiling of the many tunnels in the mine. Traces of organic matter preserved in the salt and the backfill material carry information on the microbial communities living in the brine at the time and the vegetation on the nearby land, which reflect the environmental conditions.

One of the aims of Dr Holtvoeth’s research is to produce a biogeochemical fingerprint of microbial biomass preserved in the ancient evaporites and to see how this relates to microbes living in modern brines in the mine. The modern microbial community will be further characterised through their DNA, which is the responsibility of Dr Caroline Orr. Such a biogeochemical characterisation will help collaborators at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to interpret data produced from the same sample material by an optical analytical tool (Raman spectrometer), which they are currently developing for the next generation Mars rover. If microbial life ever existed on Mars, the evaporating Martian oceans would have been the last places where it could have been found. Thus, evaporites are a prime study target in the search for life on Mars.

A number of technical issues have hampered progress so far. Last week, the team had to abandon their sampling campaign due to electrical problems. It turns out that drilling and recovering a large-diameter salt core is a lot harder than anyone had anticipated. However, with the continuing support of the UKRI Underground Laboratory and the mine operators the team hopes to succeed next time.


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