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Community & CultureRecycling

America’s Environmental Apathy Continues

Americans have no more desire in 2010 to be environmentally friendly than they did in 2000.

[social_buttons]According to the large Gallup poll conducted March 4 – 7, Americans surveyed show very little desire to increase their more environmentally friendly actions. And though approximately three in four recycle, have reduced their household energy usage and buy environmentally friendly products, this number has hardly changed since 2000.

The largest positive response the poll recorded was the likelihood to voluntarily recycle newspaper, glass, aluminium, motor oil and other items, with 9 out of 10 people admitting to such activity.


Questions that had been posed in previous polls since 2000 included whether the respondent had reduced their household’s use of energy and whether they had bought something specifically because they thought it was better for the environment. Reduction of household energy use increased a total of 2% since 2000, and environmentally focused buying increased a total of 3 percentage points.

Additional questions added to this year’s survey included whether people replaced standard light bulbs with compact fluorescents in the home, and whether anyone used reusable shopping bags at grocery stores. 81% responded that they had switched light bulbs while only 7 out of 10 people confirmed they used environmentally friendly shopping bags.

All in all, this does not bode well for increased environmental awareness in America. Despite the focus that has been directed its way through the decade’s several presidential election races, not to mention however many house, senate and governor races, Americans seem no longer to care. If they were going to do something, they’ve done it. If they haven’t done anything by now, then they’re probably not going to bother anytime in the future.

This information comes from the same poll that showed Americans want to focus on economic problems over the environment and, similarly, want the government to focus on increasing energy supplies over environmental conservation.

So, it comes as no surprise that the same poll shows that Americans’ interest in environmental activism is dropping. Only 36% of people surveyed have “contributed money to an environmental, conservation, or wildlife preservation group,” down from 40% in 2000, and only 8% have “contacted a business to complain about its products because they harm the environment,” down from 13% in 2000. 17% of Americans have “contacted a public official about an environmental issue,” while 28% have “voted for/worked for candidates because of their position on environmental issues.”

The only bright spot out of the second question is a 2% increase in those who have “been active in a group or organization that works to protect the environment.” Granted, that puts the percentage at 17%, which, in reality, isn’t all that promising.

Gallup notes that, “those who seek to encourage even more environmentally friendly behaviours from the overall population have their work cut out for them.” Well, in response to that, the writers at Planetsave have the following reply; like we didn’t know that already!

Source: Gallup

Related Posts:
1) Americans Want Focus on Energy over Environment
2) Let’s Ask the New York Times to Run this NRDC Ad to Save Alaska’s Wildlife Eden. Help Spread Awareness with Us!

Image Credit: D’Arcy Norman via flickr under a CC license




4 comments
  1. Alec Sevins

    Man didn’t evolve to see nature as finite, and in the old days it wasn’t necessary to conserve or protect nature from a much smaller human population.

    Most people in modern America are just drones chasing dollars, and nature has become a curiosity they spend vacations in. They are vaguely aware that it’s being lost (to “housing-starts” and other things that are “good for the economy”) but as long as certain parks are preserved they don’t give it much thought.

    Everything in nature tends to get labeled as crop, product or commodity owned by Man, not part of natural systems that have intrinsic value. People don’t realize that cheap oil enabled their apathetic detachment by amplifying the power of work, but that age is ending.

  2. Alec Sevins

    Man didn’t evolve to see nature as finite, and in the old days it wasn’t necessary to conserve or protect nature from a much smaller human population.

    Most people in modern America are just drones chasing dollars, and nature has become a curiosity they spend vacations in. They are vaguely aware that it’s being lost (to “housing-starts” and other things that are “good for the economy”) but as long as certain parks are preserved they don’t give it much thought.

    Everything in nature tends to get labeled as crop, product or commodity owned by Man, not part of natural systems that have intrinsic value. People don’t realize that cheap oil enabled their apathetic detachment by amplifying the power of work, but that age is ending.

  3. Saran

    When walking the dog, I have a pick up stick, and am able to pick up cigarette butts, bottle caps, bottles, cans, plastic etc. It saddens me to see all the trash that would end up in the ocean. It would be good if every home owner would at least pick up the trash in front of their house.

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