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Amazon's Purchasing Data Finds U.S. Consumers Going Green

<p>Purchases of green products on Amazon &quot;map&quot; right onto the regional stereotypes you might expect -- with a few surprises.</p>

It can be difficult to wade through all the competing claims and find some hard data on the larger environmental movement in the United States. But if cross-category purchases of green products from the nation's largest online retailer have anything to say about it, then Amazon may be capable of providing that larger picture of how America is going green.

Researchers from Amazon have tried to do just that, by measuring the purchases over the last year of various segments of green products (water conservation, energy savings, garden-to-table, etc.) across geographical coordinates and labeling each zone as "hot" or "cold" based on its deviation from the national average. The results give a broad sense of the growing trend of green buying in this country, and some interesting trivia to boot. And of course, a cool-looking map, which shows how each U.S. region is going green in its own way.

How America is Going Green map
water conservation graphic

We first looked at water conservation purchases, based on Watersense products, books on water conservation, and rain barrels. New Mexico and Arizona are the top states for water conservation purchases, with Montana coming in a close third. Rain barrel sales are picking up across the country from Roanoke, Va., to Northern California. Yet rainy Seattle, known for its all around "green-ness," drops well below the national average for purchase of rain barrels. Finally, people in Santa Cruz are truly "going" green, with the most purchases of green toilets in the nation. 


Energy savings graphic

To find leaders in energy savings, we looked at renewable energy products (wind generators and solar panels), power conservation and energy management products, and green electronics (ENERGY STAR, EPEAT certified, and LED bulbs). Florida, Nevada, and California are the top three states for energy savings purchases compared to the national average. Daytona Beach, Fla., residents take advantage of their sunny climate, with the most purchases of solar panels. But Lacrosse, Wis., is keen on learning more about energy savings: They top the nation in books on energy efficiency.


Next we looked at the garden-to-table (see graphic below), which includes gardening products (from seeds to fertilizer to moisture monitors), books on gardening and organic cooking, and composting products.

Amazon's Home & Garden team has seen increased demand for organic seeds and fertilizer, composting products, and indoor germination products across the board.

Garden-to-table graphic

Grand Junction, Colo., buys more than three times the national average of composting products, and Eureka, Calif., is the place for green thumbs, over indexing in purchases of gardening products. The Midwest has a bit of growing to do -- they lag behind the rest of the nation in garden-to-table purchases.


Green parenting graphic

Many parents are choosing greener options from organic cotton clothing to toys made from renewable resources. When analyzing trends in green parenting -- purchases of green baby and toy products -- Vermont, Massachusetts and Washington represent the top states of "greener parents." Nationwide, the Northeast purchases more green for their little ones than the West.




Based on purchases of environmental books, Vermont, Montana, and Washington, D.C. residents top our list of most well-read environmentalists. On a local level, Missoula, Montana, residents just might be way more environmentally knowledgeable than the rest of us, with well over five times the national average of environmental book purchases.

On a national level, it's really no surprise that California, New Hampshire, and Vermont residents purchase the greenest products (excluding books) across categories, compared to the national average.

The regionality of Amazon's maps is evidence against the tendency to think of the Internet as an enabler of irresponsible, far-flung purchases. Yes, the Internet does make it possible for people to buy extravagant things from exotic places. But it also makes it easier for people to find things they need to live greener lives at home. And that's what Amazon's customers are doing, wherever their homes happens to be. Region by region, each in its own way, America is gradually getting greener.

The following visualizations were generated to depict actual sales data from the last year of green purchases. Each area of the map is expressed in terms of the national average for each catagory, normalized by Amazon units shipped.

This article originally appeared at the Amazon Green blog and is reprinted with permission. Learn more about going green at

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