New Study: 87% of Americans “seriously concerned about the environment”

Consumers are ready for a change?

A new study was released today that revealed some interesting trends among Americans.

According to the study, 87% — or “the vast majority” — of Americans are now “seriously concerned about the environment“.

This demonstrates what many of us in the ‘green blogosphere’ have known for a while — that there are radical changes underway right now in how Americans look at the Environment and Environmental Issues. According to the study:

The top five environmental issues weighing heaviest on America’s minds are water pollution and rainforest destruction (56%), diminishing fresh water supply (55%), fuel and energy shortages (54%) and man-made outdoor air pollution (53%). Asked who should take the lead in addressing these and other environmental issues, half of consumers (50%) rank the federal government first and 62% believe current legislation does not do enough to positively impact the environment.

Regular readers will probably remember that we’ve discussed the role of government in changing people’s behaviors before — here and here.

The role of government has been one of the most contentious issues we’ve discussed on this blog, and now we find, according to this survey, that most Americans believe that the government should take the primary role in managing our transition to a more sustainable future.

This, of course, leaves me little doubt that the process will be horribly mismanaged, do too little and arrive too late — unless individual citizens step up and lead/force the government to respond. And according to this survey, we Americans may be getting ready to do just that.

In a classic bit of consumer modeling, the study also classified Americans into different groups based on their beliefs and gave each group a catchy name — for example, “true blue greens” (30% or those surveyed) seem to be those people who are actually changing their habits, while about 18% are “apathetics”, or people who really don’t care.

Interestingly, “apathetics” as a group get most of their information on environmental issues from television. (For this reason, I’ve considered writing and asking them to rename this group using the more accurate term, “Fox News Viewers”.)

But there was one piece of news that I felt was very positive — that more people would change if they only knew how:

Lack of Education Hinders Many from Going Green

Though the American mindset has shifted to become more environmentally-conscious, half of consumers say they “do not have the information to be personally involved in increasing their green behavior” and “aren’t sure which products and packaging materials are recyclable.” Nearly half (49%) also state they would do more for the environment if they only knew how.

America in many ways is a sleeping giant. Once awoken, it can work miracles. Let’s hope this study is an indication that that’s what’s happening now.

6 thoughts on “New Study: 87% of Americans “seriously concerned about the environment”

  1. I agree, education is the hardest part, and the part od the equation that is lacking the most. I feel that most people want to live a more ecologically responsible life, but they dont know where to start. They know that they can recycle, but most dont know that there are rules (most of which make recycling harder to form habits around).
    I bet a good 95% of the information that people are hearing is trying to just prove the fact that the environment is being depleted.

    Great quote at the end:

    America in many ways is a sleeping giant. Once awoken, it can work miracles. Let’s hope this study is an indication that that’s what’s happening now.

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  3. what concerns me about getting optimistic
    about these kinds of statistics is this:
    ok,
    great,
    87% of americans are concerned about the environment.
    BUT,
    of that 87%

    a significant percentage are going to be liberal/progressive
    and will expect the government to take a leading role
    in -fixing- the environment
    and so may not do as much on their own as they should,
    focusing instead of their “activism” by voting Green (or DNC).

    another significant percentage are going to be lazy americans
    and while they are “seriously concerned”
    they aren’t actually going to get off their fat asses
    and -do- anything to -fix- the environmental issues we face.

    we just moved into a fairly new condo building in Chicago
    we’re renting, and our landlord like to make a big deal
    out of all the “green” features in the unit.
    the on-demand hot water system
    (which still runs out of hot water in spite of not having a tank)
    the low flow toilets (which you get stuck flushing more than once)
    etc.
    but none of the lamps had CFL or LED bulbs when we moved in.
    we have no sense of how efficient the climate control is.
    there’s no recycling facilities behind the building
    so we have to cart our stuff in our car the 20 blocks to the dump
    and then self-sort it all into the appropriate piles
    (only a matter of time before we catch something doing this).
    there’s no hope the building has a green roof
    and Chicago leads the nation in metropolitan green roofing.

    just plain lazy!

    concern is great,
    government help is great (maybe?),
    but in the end,
    we need people who -do- stuff,
    not just people who talk about concerns.

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  5. Just an aside, I’ve noticed that a great play is made of recycling tech for materials, while this is great and a step forward is is also a sign of shortsightedness. By that I mean the great thing to do would be to reduce the amount of packaging first and then worry about the recycling… a lot of emergent ‘green’ thinking and technologies seem to be putting the cart before the horse.

    examples : Reuse your plastic shopping bags or better yet by a cloth one from a green shop and use it. Put a brick in your toilet flush tank to reduce the water in a flush. brush your teeth froma glass don’t run the tap. Buy quality which lasts not a quick fixer. Grow your own veg and fruit. INSULATE pipes, tanks, walls and get double glazing. Buy cotton and wollen clothes not plastic clothes, they last longer and feel better. I could go on, there are so many simple things people can do to effect immediate change, often without any extra cost to themselves… my fav is turning off your PC after work or home use. Americans leaving their PCs on after work comsumes the energy of 12 coal fired power sations in the USA. Fact.

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