Addressing the socio-environmental factors and communication intervention associated with littering behaviour in Abbotsford’s parks
In 2017, the City of Abbotsford identified littering and illegal refuse dumping as public disorder behaviours that they wished to address in partnership with environmental science communication students and researchers at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV). Through an experiential learning project, we identified the individual, social and environmental factors correlated to littering behaviour in five focus parks in Abbotsford. We used ArcGIS software to overlay existing demographic and geographical data with the latest Google maps data. We also used primary survey data that the project team collected. We found that population densities and the socio-demographic compositions of neighbourhoods around these five parks differed significantly and were correlated with particular kinds of litter and littering behaviour. In terms of geographical features, the total volume as well as individual size of litter in parks correlated highly with the proximity to water bodies, and the slope of stream embankments. Based on these findings, we provided recommendations for litter prevention strategies that varied for each park. City officials can use the GIS maps developed in this project to drop down to particular littering hotspots, look at the kind of litter in these spots, and see the individual, social and environmental factors associated with littering behaviour for each area.