OAKLAND, CA — As Americans' overall environmental confidence continues to ebb and flow, their faith in their employers' environmental responsibility has dropped to a new low, according to the monthly Green Confidence Index (www.greenconfidenceindex.com).
According to July 2010 data, just released, Americans' confidence that "the company you work for" is doing enough to address environmental challenges dropped more than 2 percentage points in a single month -- at a time that confidence in other institutions either rose slightly or held steady.
"Consumers' confidence in their employers is now at its lowest point since we began tracking," said Amy Hebard, chief research officer of Earthsense, whose company creates the Index. "Some of this is no doubt linked to high unemployment and the increased workloads of some employees."
The Green Confidence Index, which is derived from a monthly online survey of approximately 2,500 Americans aged 18 and over, measures Americans' attitudes towards and confidence in how leaders and institutions are perceived to be addressing environmental issues, the adequacy of information available to them to make informed decisions, and their past and future purchases of green products.
The Index's three components include:
• Responsibility: Who's "doing enough" – and who's not?
• Information: Is enough information available and for what types of decisions?
• Purchasing: Is green purchasing continuing, accelerating or declining?
According to research conducted during July, major companies tied with the federal government for last place in perceptions around Responsibility, while local governments have achieved their highest level yet of confidence.
In the Information category, the July data found that weeks away from the midterm elections, the availability of information on candidates' environmental positions is trending upward, though is largely seen as inadequate.
The July survey also took a look at back-to-school shopping -- specifically, the level of interest in purchasing "green" brands of school supplies.
The answer: Not so much. Green back-to-school purchases are the exception, not the rule, though they vary considerably by product type. Paper goods top the list of most frequently bought items, though fewer than a third of purchasers expect to procure green versions of those. Of 26 different school supplies we surveyed about this month, only one non-paper environmental product was being highly considered: the reusable water bottle.
"The green opportunity in the school-supply market is a gaping gap, if not a chasm," said Earthsense president Wendy Cobrda. "Getting the message to schools, not just to kids and parents -- will be crucial if there is any hope of making green part of the everyday school day."
The Green Confidence Index is a partnership of three leading business information services companies: GreenBiz.com, part of Greener World Media, which also produces research reports and events on the greening of mainstream business; Earthsense, an applied marketing company that produces Eco-Insights, the largest syndicated survey of U.S. consumers' attitudes and behaviors toward the environment and sustainability; and Survey Sampling International, the world's largest provider of multi-mode survey research sampling solutions. The Index is a subscription-based service. Annual subscriptions are $499, with charter subscriptions available at $299.
More information and a sample copy of the monthly briefing can be downloaded at www.greenconfidenceindex.com.