U.S. Citizens and Corporations Lag on Environmentalism, Survey Says

U.S. Citizens and Corporations Lag on Environmentalism, Survey Says

The results of a national survey announce this Earth Day show that individual Americans view U.S. citizens and corporations as behind the rest of the world when it comes to taking action to protect the environment.

The survey, conducted by GfK Roper Consulting asked whether U.S. individuals are ahead, behind or equal to people in other countries in terms of being "green." Nearly half (43 percent) of Americans say their fellow citizens are lagging, 27 percent say they are ahead and 22 percent cite them as equal. Similarly, 38 percent indicate U.S. corporations are behind their foreign counterparts, one-quarter (25 percent) think they're ahead and 28 percent say they are equal with respect to environmentalism.

"It's perhaps not surprising that consumers are more likely to point the finger at themselves rather than corporations for falling short on environmental responsibility," says Kathy Sheehan, senior vice president of GfK Roper. "This reflects the overall 'consumer awakening' trend we are seeing today, in which action is historically preceded by acknowledgement of an issue resulting in a need for change."

With the recent wave of media coverage around the environmental steps individuals and businesses are taking, the survey asked if this increased "green" focus reflects a real shift in opinion. While the majority of Americans (55 percent) say the heightened interest is "real," 31 percent claim it is "just a fad."

When asked in which month Earth Day is observed, 60 percent of U.S. consumers said they didn't know, 24 percent cited the wrong month and only 16 percent were able to correctly identify April. Additionally, an overwhelming 83 percent of Americans say they have no plans to mark Earth Day this year.

At the same time, the study reveals an acknowledgment of the benefit of Earth Day with 70 percent of consumers saying over the years it has had an impact on what Americans do to protect the environment. Slightly less, but still a majority (60 percent), say the annual celebration has influenced U.S. corporations' behavior over time.

Among the 14 percent of Americans who intend to celebrate Earth Day this April 22, 64 percent say they plan to plant a tree in honor of the occasion followed by 30 percent who will make their commute "green" by riding bicycle, carpooling or using public transportation to get to work. Other Earth Day activities include organizing a local recycling program (18 percent) and attending an environmental rally (17 percent).