The Stewardship Index Survey reveals insight into the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of residents in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In reviewing the data, we’ve uncovered survey trends about watershed residents as a whole. Explore the survey trends below to better inform your behavior change campaign.
Actions with significant impact on clean water are not widely adopted.
Installing a rain barrel or garden to collect rainwater and replacing grass lawns with native plants are among the most impactful actions measured through the Stewardship Index Survey, but survey results show these actions have not been adopted to their fullest potential.
- 80% of residents could install a rain barrel, but only 14% have done so.
- 86% of residents could install a rain garden, but only 13% have done so.
- 82% of residents could replace a portion of their lawns with native plants, but only 26% have done so.
More widely adopted actions include refraining from littering; refraining from pouring medicine, prescription drugs, used cooking oil or grease down the drain; and refraining from blowing grass clippings off of lawns and onto pavement. The popularity of these actions suggests they may be considered social norms in some communities or among some demographics. Agencies and organizations seeking to expand environmental stewardship should take this information into account when selecting audiences to target and actions to promote.
Several actions with low adoption rates have a significant likelihood of becoming more common.
The Stewardship Index Survey results indicate several actions with low adoption rates have a significant likelihood of becoming more common:
- 10% of rain barrel owners have connected their barrels to a downspout and ensure they are emptied between storms, but 68% rain barrel owners that have not taken this action consider themselves at least somewhat likely to do so in the future.
- 41% of residents usually or always pick up other people’s litter when they see it, but more than 50% of the residents who have not taken this action consider themselves at least somewhat likely to do so in the future.
- 47% of residents usually or always bag, mulch or compost the leaves that fall on their property, but more than 40% of the residents who have not taken this action consider themselves at least somewhat likely to do so in the future.
These behaviors could serve as focal points for agencies and organizations working to expand environmental stewardship, or as “gateway behaviors” within residential programs that seek to move individuals up an environmental stewardship ladder.
For every ten volunteers, less than two have done so for an organization that works to protect and restore clean water or environmental health.
According to the Stewardship Index Survey results, about one-third of residents have volunteered their time or donated their money to a charitable organization, but less than two in ten volunteers have done so for an organization that works to protect and restore clean water or environmental health. This gap in environment-focused volunteerism could be caused by a gap in understanding how to help:
- 69% of residents could not think of a group in their community working to protect or restore local waters.
- 41% of residents did not believe they would know how to volunteer to help their local environment if they wanted to.
- 71% of residents want to do more to make their creeks, rivers and lakes healthier, and 86% believe that if people work together, water pollution can be fixed.
Agencies and organizations seeking to expand environmental stewardship should take this information into account when selecting audiences to target and actions to promote.
Survey finds there may be potential to increase the number of watershed residents civically engaged on behalf of the environment.
- 31% of residents have become personally involved in an issue that is important to them by attending a hearing, writing a letter to the editor or engaging in similar behavior.
- Of that total, only 14% reported doing so on behalf of an environmental cause.
- 43% of residents could see themselves attending meetings or publicly speaking out in support of clean water, which suggests there is potential to increase the number of watershed residents civically engaged on behalf of the environment.
Most watershed residents believe strong federal and state action is needed to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.
While residents are engaged in local actions to protect clean water and environmental health, they also believe state and federal governments play an important role in these efforts.
- 8% of residents do not agree federal and state action is needed to clean up the Bay.
Most residents want to improve the environment around them. But many don’t see themselves as part of the problem.
- 71% of residents want to do more to make their creeks, rivers and lakes healthier.
- 65% of residents agree polluted water affects them personally.
- 35% agree their actions contribute to water pollution where they live.
This suggests organizations advancing environmental stewardship should emphasize the power of personal action and community engagement in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay in order to capitalize on the individual motivation.