Building Sustainable Behavior through Social Marketing: Encouraging Reusable Shopping Bag Use at Stadium Thriftway in Tacoma, WA - A Case Study

Date of Award


Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no embargo, no restriction)

Work Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

James Gawel

Second Advisor

Ellen Moore


Strong sustainability represents a paradigm shift that places environmental conservation and social well-being above the economy and hyper-consumption. Building sustainability requires replacing single-use disposables with durable reusables. This thesis focuses on one ubiquitous single-use disposable - grocery store shopping bags. The environmental science demonstrates that single-use shopping bags, both paper and plastic, incur unnecessary environmental costs because there is a more sustainable alternative in reusable bags. However, in order to pass and enforce successful bag regulations, bag legislation proponents have to garner community support and involvement. Therefore, community-based social marketing (CBSM) is examined as a method to build sustainable behavior in communities. In order to assess the merit of CBSM, a case study was performed at a mid-sized grocery store in Tacoma, Washington. The campaign attempted to decrease single-use shopping bag consumption by increasing reusable shopping bag use through the use of CBSM techniques. Ultimately, CBSM proved successful at changing shopping bag habits and increasing sustainable behavior.