Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Hospitality and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Jonathon Day

Committee Chair

Jonathon Day

Committee Member 1

Liping Cai

Committee Member 2

Xinran Lehto


The present thesis aims to understand factors influencing student recycling behaviors, and to investigate effective communication approaches to increase such behaviors. An online survey was conducted to examine the relationships between student recycling frequency in different contexts, students’ attitudes toward the environment, barriers to their recycling, students’ perceptions of communication messages, and communication media they think to be effective. Descriptive statistics, ANOVAs, t-test, simple linear regressions, categorical multinomial logistic regression, and a chi-square test were conducted, and the data was collected from a large land-grant university in the Midwestern United States. A total of 537 questionnaires were answered.

The main results of the present study are as follows: First, context as well as recycling barriers were factors that influenced student recycling behaviors. Most students who were likely to recycle at home would also recycle on campus, but students recycled more at home than on vacation. The main recycling barriers on campus were attitude barriers and knowledge barriers, while on vacation the main barriers were situational. Second, students thought positive messages were most effective in increasing recycling behavior, while students with less pro-environmental attitudes preferred neutral messages. “Clear, informative, and consistent bin infrastructure and bin labels” and “promotions such as recycling contests [and] competitions between departments or colleges” were found to be effective forms of communication. Additionally, when there were more significant factors such as the accessibility of recycling, student environmental attitudes did not play an important role in recycling behaviors on campus and on vacation. The study offers two practical recommendations. They are to increase recycling facilities and accessibility, and providing informative, clear recycling signs and labels with positive messages. Two suggestion are made for future research on the topic. They are to find factors that are more determinant than attitudes of environment about student recycling and to do more research on the usage of positive messages about student recycling behaviors.