More than 84 percent of respondents to a new study believe “it is a moral obligation” to care for the environment and 86 percent already participate in at least one green activity such as conserving energy at home, recycling, driving a fuel efficient car, buying recycled products or picking up litter. However, the research also found that a main barrier to doing more “green” actions is people’s trepidation that such activities may associate them with extreme political or environmental viewpoints.
The study, entitled “Moving Consumers from Green Interest to Green Action,” was conducted by Insight Research Group in partnership with HGTV and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Not surprisingly, given the increased media coverage of “green” topics, the study found that 40 percent of consumers say they are more aware of environmental issues now than they were in 2006. In addition, 81 percent of respondents think the current focus on environmental or “green” issues is “here to stay” rather than a “passing fad.”
The study found that Americans would be willing to do even more if they understood how a particular “green” action could help the environment as well as benefit them personally – 78 percent said they are “willing to make a lifestyle change for the good of the environment.” While many responded that “the best way to solve current environmental problems” is through individuals (72 percent) and businesses (64 percent) taking responsibility, most admit they can’t distinguish between the reality and the hype, and report it is hard to know what actions are truly good for the environment.
When asked why they participate in “green” activities, consumers reported the major motivators are that “it’s good for the environment” (82 percent), “it helps future generations” (78 percent), “it’s healthy” (78 percent), “it’s the right thing’ to do” (78 percent), and “it fits with my morals or beliefs” (73 percent). Interestingly, Insight Research Group’s consumer segmentation, People’s Approach to Green and the Environment (PAGE), revealed that consumers who are the most green, “Green Gurus” (17 percent), regularly participate in 4.1 green activities, while the rest of consumers — which includes Conscientious Citizens (24 percent), Guidance Seekers (24 percent) Bystanders (17 percent) and Hype Haters (18 percent) – are not far behind, regularly participating in an average of 2.5 green activities.
Insight says its research methodology consisted of both qualitative and quantitative phases. The initial qualitative research phase included twenty 30-minute phone interviews recruited via RDD (random digit dialing) among consumers of a wide range of ages, professions, regions, political opinions, and environmental attitudes. The phone interviewees also completed a three-day online, interactive debate via blogging based on “green”-focused prompts and questions. The quantitative research phase consisted of a nationally representative online survey with a robust sample recruited via RDD (N = 1000).