Between environmental concerns and compliance: How does media messaging affect motivation and choice between disposable versus reusable facemasks?

Lead Research Organisation: Bangor University
Department Name: Sch of Music & Media

Abstract

Facemasks are a crucial part of UK strategy to contain and mitigate transmission of COVID-19. While disposable facemasks present a convenient, low-cost solution, they carry greater associated environmental costs than reusable masks which are less likely to be discarded but require higher financial outlay. Although clearly central, the influence of media messaging - positive or negative - in determining people's mask-wearing choices is unknown, despite the considerable medical and environmental implications. This project will explore the complex factors underpinning consumer choice of masks and the adoption or rejection of facemask wearing, including responsible disposal of masks, by using multi-disciplinary methods to evaluate constructive and destructive messaging around (a) mask-wearing and motivation, and (b) sustainable choices within the facemask wearing arena. There are three components:
1. Assessing the influence and effectiveness of media messaging around the wearing of facemasks to date.
2. Examining the ways in which more effective media messaging can be developed to respond to rising rates of infection as well as potential long-term facemask use in the post-Covid era.
3. Examining how the wearing of facemasks can be encouraged in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner to prevent short, medium and long-term collateral environmental harm, in alignment with the UK's obligations under international human rights and environmental laws.
The overarching aim of this twelve-month project is, then, to better understand current facemask wearing behaviour as influenced by the media to improve uptake and enhance the effectiveness of media campaigns for the future, specifically considering environmental issues.

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