Date of Submission


Document Type



Tarsila Seara, Ph.D.


Marine Plastic Pollution, Social Media, Global Plastic Production, Environmental Advertisements


Marine pollution, Social media and society


Marine plastic pollution (MPP) is one of the most pressing problems in the world today with many effects on ecological, economic, and social aspects of society. Global plastic production is around 322 million tons, with 10% of the world’s plastic products entering the ocean every year. Environmental campaigns use humor and shock in order to influence consumer behavior in regard to plastic products. Such approaches are important to utilize on social media in order to effectively communicate the issues posed by MPP. In this study, students and staff at the University of New Haven campus were given a survey containing social media posts using humor or shock to display information about MPP. The survey asked questions about participant demographics, social media use, everyday habits before and after reviewing the social media examples. User responses were analyzed and compared to determine the most effective emotional appeal for marine plastic pollution outreach. The results in this study showed that there was no significant difference between the shocking or humorous emotional appeal in regard to the sustainable behavior of participants. Most participants stated marine plastic pollution is an issue at the forefront of today’s media, so this study did not change their opinion on whether MPP was a problem. This study implies that gender, academic background and pre-exposure to MPP may play a role in changing behavior. The conclusions of this study may be used for environmental advertisements in terms of the most effective appeal for different audience backgrounds.