With the growing environmental change awareness, more nongovernment organizations engage in the development and environmental campaigns. These campaigns pursue two essential goals. First, they are intended to educate the public about the severity and irreversible consequences of environmental change. Second, they deliver important information on how communities can promote positive behaviors to reduce the damage they cause to the environment. Methods and strategies used to implement environmental campaigns vary considerably, depending on the goal, setting, and expected policy outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the B.E.A.C.H. environmental campaign developed by Suzanne Frazer and Dean Otsuki to raise awareness of marine debris removal and minimize the risks of environmental degradation.
Strategies and Tactics of the Environmental Campaign
The Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii (B.E.A.C.H.) was first introduced in 2006 with the goal of raising public awareness and bringing effective solutions to the problems of marine debris. B.E.A.C.H. is a non-profit campaign that was developed to “protect marine life, sea birds, and the ocean/coastal environment” (BEACH, 2012). Fundraising and donations are the only sources of funding for the B.E.A.C.H. campaign (BEACH, 2012). It includes three important elements.
First, environmental education activities are developed for schools and community residents (BEACH, 2012). The purpose of these activities is to raise public awareness and propose new solutions to avoid the destruction of marine debris (BEACH, 2012). Books, art projects, information tables, and community booths make up the very basis of the educational element of the B.E.A.C.H. campaign (BEACH, 2012). Second, marine debris removal and research represent another essential aspect of the discussed campaign. More specifically, the campaign participants work together to remove marine debris from the most severely affected shorelines, while documenting the results of these activities and investigating the patterns and types of marine debris (BEACH, 2012). Third, as part of the B.E.A.C.H. campaign, volunteers engage in litter prevention and plastic reduction activities (BEACH, 2012).
The campaign also offers numerous opportunities for the citizens, who want to prevent marine debris and become more ecologically conscious and responsible for their actions. For instance, in 2007, the B.E.A.C.H. project launched a program to reduce the number of plastic bags and encourage the use of reusable sources (BEACH, 2012). Additionally, the campaign includes numerous suggestions to minimize the amount of marine debris.
The “Push” Methods of the B.E.A.C.H. Campaign
Environmental campaigns utilize a broad range of instruments, but most campaigning methods can be roughly divided into “pull” and “push” categories. The former entails the presence of a government agency that is interested in communicating an environmental message (Ben-Ari & Chao, 2009). In this method, the government agency responsible for the campaign offers a solution to public players, as they seek to address a specific environmental controversy (Ben-Ari & Chao, 2009).
By contrast, the “push” method is based on congressional interest and public opinion, as it is in the case of the B.E.A.C.H. campaign. Such campaigns move slowly by acquiring public support and using it to implement their solutions and propositions. The B.E.A.C.H. campaign is an example of the “push” method, which nevertheless incorporates the most traditional models of raising public awareness of environmental pollution. Education, community booths, and marine debris research are effective but not very creative. To a large extent, the B.E.A.C.H. campaign cannot be differentiated from other environmental campaigns that employ similar methods. Much more important are the incentives used by the campaign to motivate the public to behave in an environmentally conscious manner.
Self-Interest versus Economic Incentives
In the study of motivation, environmental campaigns occupy a very special place. Some campaigns rely on purely economic factors, while others apply to self-interests of the target audience. According to Bolderijk, Geller, Lehman, and Postmes (2013), environmental campaigns based on economic incentives treat the target audience as being primarily motivated by financial considerations. Simply stated, such players will change their behaviors and protect the environment if they know that their behaviors will benefit their pockets. However, many people also want to maintain a publicly favorable image (Bolderijk et al., 2013).
They want to look attractive in the eyes of others, even when their behaviors do not have any financial implications. The B.E.A.C.H. campaign exemplifies the latter type of the environmental model, in which self-interest prevails over financial benefits. With the program stakeholders, including all members of the communities living along the Hawaiian shorelines, B.E.A.C.H. seeks to persuade them that environmentally conscious behaviors will create a more favorable opportunity for healthy and comfortable living.
Successes, Barriers, and Recommendations
The controversies surrounding the use of self-interest in environmental campaigns should not be ignored. One the one hand, it is always better for an environmental campaign to promote positive behaviors without linking them to financial benefits. On the other hand, self-interest concerns have the potential to inhibit environmental behaviors in the target population (Evans et al., 2012). Environmental campaigns that rely solely on self-interest can easily boost other self-interest behaviors and decisions, which are likely to conflict the values and principles underlying pro-environmental decisions (Evans et al., 2012).
For instance, as the B.E.A.C.H. campaign promotes environmentally conscious decisions that benefit the community environment, these community members may decide that throwing out marine debris is a more advantageous solution than protecting the environment. Therefore, the campaign organizers must be able to reach and maintain the fragile balance of self-interest and economic incentives to ensure that the message delivered to the target audience is effective enough to cause a positive behavioral change. The campaigners do not report any successes or barriers encountered by them. Still, the main recommendation relates to the set of instruments used in the B.E.A.C.H. campaign. The campaigners must become more inventive and creative, as they seek to cause a positive shift in the public consciousness. Otherwise, they will fail to achieve any positive result.
In conclusion, the B.E.A.C.H. campaign was developed specifically to target the problems of marine debris and raise public awareness of the environmental problems along the Hawaiian shorelines. The campaign can be described as traditional, incorporating the most common elements such as education, community involvement, and research. B.E.A.C.H. is based on the so-called “push” method, which implies the use of public resources to achieve the campaign purpose. Its target audience covers the communities and residents living along the Hawaiian shorelines. The fact that the campaign applies to stakeholders’ self-interests has far-reaching implications for its effectiveness. On the one hand, it is always better for individuals to display environmentally conscious attitudes without considering their financial consequences.
On the other hand, such environmental campaigns can give rise to the self-interests that inhibit pro-environmental behaviors. Therefore, the campaigners should focus their efforts on achieving the right balance of self-interest and environmentally conscious attitudes and using new, creative methods of cooperation with the target community.
B.E.A.C.H. (2012). Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii. Web.
Ben-Ari, G. & Chao, P.A. (2009). Organizing for a complex world: Developing tomorrow’s defense and net-centric systems. Washington, D.C.: CSIS. Web.
Bolderdijk, J.W., Steg, L., Geller, E.S., Lehman, P.K. & Postmes, T. (2012). Comparing the effectiveness of monetary versus moral motives in environmental campaigning. Nature Climate Change, 3, 413-416. Web.
Evans, L., Maio, G.R., Corner, A., Hodgetts, C.J., Ahmed, S. & Hahn, U. (2012). Self-interest and pro-environmental behavior. Nature Climate Change, 1-4. Web.