Earth Day: How Consumers Feel

Happy Earth Day, again, everyone! I hope that you found it in yourself to contribute one-act of green or pledge to better the planet, at least for one day. If you did, you are among the decreasing number of consumers who actually care LESS about the environment in 2012. Yes, you heard me correctly. According to a survey by Harris Interactive, who initiated a “green attitude” poll, American’s stake in environmentalism and saving the environment has dropped in recent years.

The survey measured 2,451 adults in March of 2012 and compared their results with respondent’s answers in 2009. The citizens were asked questions in these categories: reusing items instead of throwing them away, using less water, buying food in bulk, purchasing natural products, and purchasing organic products. The percentages were low in 2009 to begin with, and the number are extremely low now. The highest category is “reusing things the have instead of throwing them away or buying new items”, which was true for 65% of Americans in 2009 and 61% in 2012. I am glad that the numbers are in the 60th percentile, as the other percentages are quite low, but I am still astounded by the amount of decrease in the last 3 years.

“Green attitudes” were also measured in this study. The categories in this segment included: describing oneself as “environmentally conscious”, personally caring about the current or future state of the environment, and being concerned about the planet for future generations. This segment of the survey had the biggest decrease. In 2009, 43% of people in the study said that they were concerned about the state of the planet that they are leaving for the future, and only 34% of people said this statement in 2012. This is disheartening.

No, 2,451 people isn’t exactly a full sample of Americans. There have been many states and regions who have stopped using plastic bags, and people have taken large strides to decrease their water use. Corporations are selling eco-friendly merchandise, and companies pledge to use less plastic in their products. As I have reiterated throughout my blog posts, I can’t believe that people don’t care more about the environment.

So this brings me to WHY this is happening. Is it because people are “bored” with the idea of green-living? Are they inconvenienced by the fact that they have to “work hard”  to save the environment? Perhaps environmental education could help. People learn more when they are immersed in information and begin to believe in change. This survey suggests that because health care, the economy, and the upcoming election have overtaken environmental discussions in politics. Because of this, people are putting the environment on the back burner.  TIME reporter Brad Tuttle suggests that “the individuals [are] more likely to help the environment when the efforts also help [themselves]”, which isn’t a particularly new idea for Americans (since we are extremely lazy and selfish, no offense!).

If environmental warriors or people with “green attitudes” would educate the masses more often, maybe the idea would stick. It could be something like social media blasts to get the attention of young people, writing more blog/news posts about the state of the environment, or simply talking to people in day-to-day conversations. This is a problem that needs to be solved as our planet is exhausted daily of its resources. Education is the key, so speak up!

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One thought on “Earth Day: How Consumers Feel

  1. hopeschaitkin

    We at The Green Life Online are also somewhat disillusioned by the lack of consumer commitment to protecting the planet. Give us some feedback by looking at our Earth Day post, “A Manifesto for Earth Day: Let’s Think Bigger” here http://wp.me/p2h3OV-nY.

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