Americans No Greener In Past Decade, Environmental Activism Declining: New Gallup Poll


images: Gallup

I'm going to try not to overly dip into despair in this next one, but the results of a new Gallup Poll on changes in green behavior in the United States over the past decade aren't overly encouraging, particularly when it comes to political action. As you can see in the graphics (above and below) despite of increased efforts in environmental awareness and the growth of the green movement, there's been very little change in the actions people are willing to take.Greener Lifestyle Choices Largely Unchanged
A great deal of people (90%) have voluntarily recycled household items, but since we know that overall recycling rates are far, far lower than that it seems most people responding to that question are perhaps taking it literally--since they've thrown something, at least once in a while, into a recycling bin they've voluntarily recycled.

The fact that 85% of people have reduced household energy usage isn't bad, but is only marginally increased over the past decade and there's no indication of how much they've reduced it.

81% of people replacing conventional lightbulbs with CFLs is good news for energy use. Perhaps the most encouraging thing in the survey. Though 70% of people using reusable shopping bags is pretty good too--even if, like with recycling and energy use, there's no indication how often that behavior has been adopted.

Showing the greatest increase since 2000, albeit only 3%, in 2010 76% of people surveyed have brought a product because they thought it better for the environment. Good on the face of it, but for all the increased green messaging over the passed ten years, one would hope a large uptick.


Appetite For Political Activism Remains Low
When it comes to activism, the figures aren't good, no matter what spin you put on it: Only 36% of people have contributed money to a conservation group; only 28% of people have voted or worked for a candidate because of their environmental positions; painfully a mere 17% of people have been active in a group working for environmental protection or contacted a public official about an environmental issue; 8% of people (a decline of 5% over the preceding decade) have contacted a business to complain about it's environmental practices.

We've Got Our Work Cut Out For Us
As Gallup says about the implications of this:

While most Americans continue to voluntarily take steps to help the environment, the likelihood that an individual will do so appears fairly fixed and largely unaffected by outside influences or even one's own demographics. Stated more simply, those who are willing to undertake such measures are probably already doing so, while others may never be willing to do so.The entrenched nature of these findings suggests that those who seek to encourage even more environmentally friendly behaviors from the overall population have their work cut out for them, especially if the actions remain voluntary.

Trying to see a silver lining in this: Taken another way, perhaps when it comes to lifestyle choices the green movement has reached all the people it's going to and that we need to concentrate on deeper and more regular action. Concerning political activism, perhaps here too we're witnessing the results of the limits of public political action. Hopefully, this is a picture of attitudes towards political activism broadly across issues and not lack of concern about the environment specifically.

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More on American's Environmental Attitudes:
More Americans Now Support Expanding Fossil Fuel Production Than Protecting Environment: Gallup Poll
Americans' Attitudes Cool Towards Global Warming - Less Than Half Now Think Humans Responsible
Americans Support Strong Climate & Energy Policy: Yale Poll

Tags: Activism | United States