A Resource Use & Waste Journal


Julie V Stanton, Department of Business, The Pennsylvania State University

publication date

March 01, 2020


Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (external link).

cite as

Stanton, Julie (2020), ” A Resource Use & Waste Journal,” Macromarketing Pedagogy Place, (accessed August 21, 2020), [available at http://pedagogy.macromarketing.org/project/PP202003D/].


Sustainability; Consumer Behavior


Individual Assignment


This assignment provides students with an opportunity for in-depth reflection on their own consumption behaviors through the development of a daily journal.

The 5-week journaling component is scaffolded to have them consider additional behaviors each week, and concludes with a decision on which habit(s) to change over the course of the subsequent month.

During that month, students can be offered a chance during class to exchange ideas and challenges with one another. At the end of the month, students reflect in depth on the difficulty of the change, and on the relative impact their behavioral adjustment would have if multiplied across all consumers.

Rationale for this project

Frequently, students are offered a combination of textbook concepts through lecture and application assignments on the “other” – a firm, a country market, a product line.

This assignment turns the direction of application toward the student, allowing a very personalized understanding of course principles. Keeping track of one’s own choices is meaningful to comprehending the consumer-related challenges facing products and services in the sustainable marketplace.

Classroom example

I use this exercise in a senior-level undergraduate course on Sustainability Marketing (the closest course that our institution has to Macromarketing). Starting the exercise early in the term helps to ease students into a relationship with course topics and gives them a basis for understanding the challenges of introducing more sustainable products.

Ido not provide the students with a template for their journals other than to suggest they develop a table in a Word document, with one row per day.

Feedback from students

Most students in the classroom keep up with the journal fairly regularly. Defining a full week as including at least 5 of the 7 days helps, as it adds a little flexibility given their busy schedules. The conversation in class during this period is interesting, as students usually are quite surprised by the type of waste they generate and the lack of conscious decision-making that much of it represents. Those living at home also report on how their parents and siblings engage in the behaviors and even with their journaling exercise. Some face resistance, while others get family members on-board.

During the habit change month, students occasionally indicate how hard it is to get started, leaving their reusable versions (shopping bags, water bottles, lunch containers) in their car or at home, negating their value that day. Others quickly recognize that their expenditures on gasoline, bottled water, disposable paper plates etc. are reduced with their changes, adding incentive to continue.

The final reflection papers provide clear indication of how committed most of the students are to not only maintaining their progress but also convincing others in their lives to do the same.