Green habits fade in US

23 September 2011

NEW YORK: Consumers in the US have reduced their focus on green products and issues, largely as a result of the challenging financial climate, new figures show.

GfK Roper Consulting, the research firm, surveyed 2,012 adults, and found 41% put economic security before environmental concerns, an increase of 13 points on 2007.

Similarly, while 33% of contributors thought ecological matters were "very serious and should be a priority for everyone", this figure had declined from 46% in 2007.

More positively, 37% of participants now believe companies are fulfilling their environmental responsibilities, an improvement of eight points when measured against 2007.

In an equivalent trend, a 39% minority of the sample agreed that the claims businesses make about their green credentials are not accurate, down from 48% in 2008.

Regarding current purchase activities, only 30% of interviewees had bought a product with an explicitly eco-friendly positioning during the last two months, a slide on the total of 36% logged in 2008.

Equally, the number of people attempting to avoid goods which are not environmentally "responsible" fell by six points in the same period, to 24% overall.

However, many respondents have changed their habits in other ways, as 63% drank tap water rather than the bottled alternative, up five points, and 39% took reusable bags to supermarkets, up 11 points.

"How Americans are participating in environmental protection is shifting. For a large portion of the population it is much more about what one can do as opposed to what one can buy," said Timothy Kenyon, director of the GfK Roper Green Gauge Report.

When asked where they discovered information about sustainability issues, 34% of the panel cited word of mouth, growing by seven points from 2002. Product packaging and labels also saw an 11 point lift to 33%.

Online content enjoyed a rise of nine points, reaching 32%, while TV shows lost 31 points, to 31%, and newspapers tumbled by 27 points, to 30%, according to the study.

Data sourced from GfK Roper Consulting/AdAge; additional content by Warc staff