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Using Pride of Place to Encourage Springshed Stewardship

Florida’s beloved Wekiva springshed was under attack: nitrate pollution – driven by residential septic systems and turf grass fertilizer – was feeding algal blooms that degraded water quality and food sources for local wildlife.

The Orange County Environmental Protection Division (OCEPD)turned to Marketing for Change to change community behavior and save local springs.

Revealing the Disconnect

Septic-to-sewer conversion efforts already had momentum in the state, so we focused on fertilizer use to produce more immediate reductions in nitrate pollution. Our research indicated two age-old problems: residents did not see themselves as contributors to the problem (and did not understand how fertilizer from their yards ended up polluting local springs) and they did not see the springs as polluted – they still looked beautiful and clear to most.

The resulting campaign “My Yard My Springs” aimed to help residents see their role in the problem and solution by connecting personal behaviors to protecting local springs that people loved and knew to be important economic drivers for the community.

Redirecting Residential Behaviors

Understanding that residents needed a clear behavioral ask, the campaign website and collateral focused on skipping fertilizer during the summer rainy season (when it stood to be most detrimental), safe fertilizer use in the spring and fall and an overall push for more Florida-friendly landscaping – designing yards with plants native to the area (which require no fertilizer and less maintenance for homeowners).