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Greenwashing's toll? Americans get green fatigue

Greenwashing's toll? Americans get green fatigue

Posting in Energy

Fewer Americans are integrating green behavior such as water conservation, composting, recycling electronics and buying more fuel efficient cars into their daily routines, according to a Harris Interactive.

Fewer Americans are integrating green behavior such as water conservation, composting, recycling electronics and buying more fuel efficient cars into their daily routines, according to a Harris Interactive.

Harris conducted a poll
of 2,352 U.S. adults Nov. 8 to Nov. 15 and found:

  • 57 percent of Americans are trying to use less water, down from 60 percent in 2009.
  • 15 percent of Americans are buying organic products, down from 17 percent a year ago.
  • 30 percent are buying Energy Star appliances, down from 36 percent a year ago.
  • 32 percent are donating or recycling electronics, down from 41 percent a year ago.
  • 20 percent are installing a low-flow showerhead or toilet, down from 25 percent a year ago.
  • 8 percent are buying a hybrid or more fuel efficient car, down from 13 percent in 2009.

With those results, it's worth pondering a few reasons why there's a drop-off. Here are a few theories worth pondering:

  • Greenwashing. Is there a product that isn't green these days. When every manufacturer or service provider is pitching green as a marketing pitch, Americans tune out. Simply put, it's green overload.
  • Return on being green. Money is tight and some green behaviors---notably purchasing organic products---are more expensive.
  • The global warming research flap. We're not going to get into the merits of the science behind global warming, but there has been enough controversy to make folks tune out.
  • We're already green. One key item in the Harris Poll is that 20 percent of U.S. adults now see themselves as conservationists, up from 17 percent in 2009. Eighteen percent of Americans consider themselves green, up from 13 percent a year ago.

Here's a deeper dive on some of the responses.

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Larry Dignan

Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Larry Dignan is editor-in-chief of SmartPlanet and ZDNet. He is also editorial director of TechRepublic. Previously, he was an editor at eWeek, Baseline and CNET News. He has written for WallStreetWeek.com, Inter@ctive Week, New York Times and Financial Planning. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Delaware. He is based in New York but resides in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure