Graduation Date

Summer 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Yvonne F. Everette

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Gregg J. Gold

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Margaret A. Gainer

Third Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Subject Categories

Environment and Community


A rising demand for healthy and sustainably grown food has become a trend of our time. However, there is dissonance in contemporary awareness about where food comes from and where it ultimately ends up. Globally, one third of all food produced is never used. In the United States alone, approximately 55 million tons of food is discarded each year (Venkat, 2012). This is problematic because food waste has environmental, economic and social costs associated with it. Organic materials accelerate anthropogenic climate changing greenhouse gas emissions by releasing methane as they decompose in landfills. In addition, unused food embodies and thus wastes valuable resources in its harvesting, processing and distribution including but not limited to land, water, energy and capital. Food waste has become a function of food security. Countries with the greatest access to food are those that also waste the greatest percentage of food.

The primary goal of this research is to investigate and analyze key driving forces (e.g. the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, socio-economic influences, management practices) that lead to post-consumer, household food waste for the case of Arcata, CA. The purpose of this research is to provide analysis that will serve as a community-development resource for motivating more conservative sustainable food waste behaviors and advance management practices in this rural community. My research draws upon environmental psychology for researching the attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and management of food waste in this community. Data was collected using a mixed-method approach including: primary research consisting of semi-structured interviews, community surveys and participant observation coupled with secondary research analysis of peer-reviewed papers, published reports and published data. The case study revealed the challenges of food waste management in rural areas, such as Arcata. In addition, the survey results highlighted common household behaviors and challenges that lead to food waste. In combination the interviews and survey outcomes elucidated plausible opportunities for sustainable food waste management.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location