The Accidental Environmentalist

The Accidental Environmentalist

Our 2010 Eco Pulse study will publish in a few weeks so we’re furiously analyzing the data and formulating what it all means.  A theme that keeps rising to the top (and I wrote about it a few weeks ago) is the idea that belief in global warming and the desire to buy green products are not interrelated.  That’s a great thing for the marketers of green products, since belief in Global Warming is way down.  Here are a few relevant stats:

  • Sixty four percent of respondents said they’re searching for greener products these days (up from 60% last year).
  • The primary reason to purchase greener personal care products was (by far) “to limit my (and my family’s) exposure to toxins and chemicals (21%) compared to 10% who selected “to preserve natural resources for future generations”.
  • The primary reason to buy greener home improvement products was “to save money” (17%) compared to 10% who replied “to save natural resources”.
  • Only 48% (compared to 58% in 2009 and 57% in 2008) said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “Global warming or climate change is occurring and is primarily caused by human activity.” The change primarily occurred due to a large shift to undecided responses (30% compared to 22% last year) and not a marked increase in disagreement (21% compared to 19% last year.)
  • Last year 18% felt “very personally responsible” to change daily habits and purchase practices to positively impact the environment. This year only 14% felt “very personally responsible”.
  • Only 24% would choose the environment, over their personal comfort or convenience, compared to 26% last year and 31% in 2008.

The moral of the story here is that Americans buy green products for very different reasons per category, and the reason is typically not “to save the planet!”  I have some die-hard environmentalist colleagues/friends who are troubled by this.  They seem hell-bent on convincing people to see the damage they’re inflicting on the planet so they’ll be morally moved to change their ways.  It’s just not worth the trouble.  We actually have a nation of Accidental Environmentalists — people who will make greener product choices and begin adopting greener behaviors.  They’re just doing it for different reasons.  Their actions and purchases will ultimately contribute to a healthier planet, so, in the end, everybody wins.  Why pick a fight that’s unnecessary?

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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