Less People Thinking “Green”

By US Daily Review Staff.

If you think we are talking about money when we say “thinking green,” you are off. The green that was a subject of a recent poll pertains to the environmental movement. Financial hardships over the last few years are causing different priorities.

Since the summer of 2009the Harris Poll has been tracking Americans’ attitudes toward the environment as well as their engagement in various environmentally-friendly, or “green,” behaviors. The latest installment finds that many green behaviors, including those capable of saving consumers money, continue to decline. And perhaps more alarming, considerably fewer U.S. adults now express concern for, and awareness of, environmental issues.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,451 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over), surveyed online between March 12 and March 19, 2012 by Harris Interactive.

Since these questions were first asked in 2009 there has been a decline in some green behaviors. In 2012, U.S. adults are now less likely to do each of the following in their daily life:

  • Reuse things they have instead of throwing them away or buying new items (65% 2009 vs. 61% 2012);
  • Make an effort to use less water (60% 2009 vs. 57% 2010 and 2012);
  • Buy food in bulk (33% 2009 vs. 30% 2012);
  • Purchase all-natural products (18% 2009 vs. 16% 2012); and,
  • Purchase organic products (17% 2009 vs. 15% 2010 and 2012).

They are also less likely to espouse certain green attitudes – fewer Americans describe themselves as “environmentally-conscious” (27% 2012 vs. 30% 2009), or say they personally care a great deal about the current state, and future, of the environment (31% 2012 vs. 36% 2009 and 34% 2010).

Most significantly, in 2012, only about 1 in 3 U.S. adults (34%) say they are concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations – an almost 10 percentage point decrease since 2009 (43%).

At the same time, however, a minority of Americans – more so than in 2009 – continue to describe themselves as:

  • Conservationist (20% 2012 and 2010 vs. 17% 2009);
  • “Green” (17% 2012 and 18% 2010 vs. 13% 2009); and,
  • Environmentalist (16% 2012 and 2010 vs. 13% 2009).

So What?
Over the past few years, more pressing issues such as health care reform, economic recovery, and the upcoming presidential election have eclipsed discussions about the environment, so perhaps it is not very surprising that these latest Harris Pollresults continue to show a decline in “green” attitudes and behaviors. Unfortunately for consumers, some of the “green” behaviors they fail to adopt – such as buying food in bulk – could be saving them money, while others – such as recycling – could help us leave behind a cleaner, more sustainable future for our grandchildren. There may be a silver lining though, if the group of Americans who express the strongest commitment to the environment is a vocal and highly engaged minority.

TABLE 1A

FREQUENCY OF VARIOUS GREEN BEHAVIORS

“How often do you do each of the following in your daily life?”

Base: All adults
Always/
Often (NET)
Always Often Sometimes Rarely/
Never (NET)
Rarely Never
% % % % % % %
Keep unneeded lights off or turn lights off when leaving a room 81 46 35 13 6 2 4
Recycle 68 43 25 17 15 8 7
Reuse things that I have instead of throwing them away or buying new items 61 23 38 25 14 7 6
Make an effort to use less water 57 25 32 28 15 8 7
Unplug electrical appliances when I am not using them 43 17 26 27 30 16 14
Purchase locally grown produce 36 6 30 43 21 12 9
Buy food in bulk 30 8 23 37 32 20 12
Purchase locally manufactured products 24 4 20 48 27 18 9
Purchase used items rather than new 23 5 18 38 39 24 14
Compost food and organic waste 18 9 9 15 67 16 51
Carpool or take public transportation 17 6 11 18 65 22 44
Purchase all-natural products 16 4 13 41 43 27 15
Walk or ride a bike instead of driving or using public transportation 16 6 10 21 62 25 37
Purchase organic products 15 3 12 37 48 27 21
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 1B

FREQUENCY OF VARIOUS GREEN BEHAVIORS

“How often do you do each of the following in your daily life?”

Summary of those saying “Always” or “Often”

Base: All adults
2009
Total
2010
Total
2012
Total
% % %
Keep unneeded lights off or turn lights off when leaving a room 83 81 81
Recycle 68 68 68
Reuse things that I have instead of throwing them away or buying new items 65 63 61
Make an effort to use less water 60 57 57
Unplug electrical appliances when I am not using them 40 39 43
Purchase locally grown produce 39 33 36
Buy food in bulk 33 32 30
Purchase locally manufactured products 26 23 24
Purchase used items rather than new 25 24 23
Compost food and organic waste 17 15 18
Carpool or take public transportation 16 16 17
Purchase all-natural products 18 16 16
Walk or ride a bike instead of driving or using public transportation 15 15 16
Purchase organic products 17 15 15
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 2A

ENVIRONMENTAL LABELS

“To what extent, if any, does each of the following statements describe you?”

Base: All adults
Very well/
Completely

(NET)

Completely Very
well
Fairly
well
Somewhat
well/Does not
describe me
(NET)
Somewhat
well
Does not
describe
me at all
% % % % % % %
I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations. 34 12 22 27 39 26 13
I personally care a great deal about the current state, and future, of the environment. 31 11 19 29 40 28 12
I feel a personal responsibility for taking care of the environment. 27 9 18 27 46 30 16
I am environmentally-conscious. 27 9 18 33 40 28 12
I encourage others to be more environmentally-friendly. 24 9 15 28 48 27 21
I am a conservationist. 20 6 14 24 56 30 25
I am “green”. 17 5 11 25 59 31 27
I am an environmentalist. 16 6 10 21 63 27 36
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
TABLE 2B

ENVIRONMENTAL LABELS

“To what extent, if any, does each of the following statements describe you?”

Summary of those saying “Very well” or “Completely”

Base: All adults
2009
Total
2010
Total
2012
Total
% % %
I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations. 43 36 34
I personally care a great deal about the current state, and future, of the environment. 36 34 31
I feel a personal responsibility for taking care of the environment. 29 29 27
I am environmentally-conscious. 30 29 27
I encourage others to be more environmentally-friendly. 26 25 24
I am a conservationist. 17 20 20
I am “green”. 13 18 17
I am an environmentalist. 13 16 16
Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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