Lifestyle

How seriously do Americans take sustainability?

Almost three in five Americans are taking their sustainability efforts more seriously today than they were five years ago, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults found that 41% admit that using disposable products makes them feel guilty about harming the environment. 

Yet, 23% admit to “always” or “often” throwing away their reusable items such as bags, food containers and water bottles.

A survey found that 41% U.S. adults admit that using disposable products makes them feel guilty about harming the environment.  Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Over the last year, respondents purchased 14 boxes of plastic bags, 11 plastic cups, nine single-use silverware packs, 17 paper towel packages and 15 paper plates — totaling 65 disposable purchases. 

But even so, many say they reuse plastic bags (57%), plastic water bottles (44%), takeout containers (44%) and even their single-use utensils (30%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Stasher, the survey also revealed that Americans are investing in sustainable products, though their efforts may be counterintuitive. 

The average American has 51 reusable items in their home but admit that they use less than half (45%) on a regular basis.

Over the last year, respondents purchased 14 boxes of plastic bags, 11 plastic cups, nine single-use silverware packs, 17 paper towel packages and 15 paper plates — totaling 65 disposable purchases.  SWNS

These items include three water bottles and thermoses, three plastic or metal straws and five plastic bag alternatives. And that’s not even counting their food storage containers (6), reusable shopping bags (5) and other miscellaneous items (5). 

The average American has bought $54 of new reusable equipment in the past year, though 21% say that figure is over $90. 

But do they buy these items to be more eco-friendly? For 45%, it’s because they wanted a variety of sizes, followed by needing an alternative in case they can’t use their favorite item (26%).

Others seem to be jumping on the bandwagon, as 19% are opting for a variety of colors whereas 9% say it’s because the item is considered trendy.

Around 10% of people are buying sustainable items because they’re trendy. SWNS

This may be because while many still see the term “sustainable” as saving the planet (40%), others see it as a marketing technique (11%), another trend (8%) or even a status symbol (7%).

“It’s refreshing to see that more than half of those surveyed (59%) are taking their sustainability efforts more seriously than five years ago,” said Hilary McGuigan, Vice President of Marketing at Stasher. “It’s an encouraging sign that people feel empowered to make changes in their own lives and have the agency to reduce their reliance on plastic waste and other single-use items. However, results found that there’s work to be done for their friends, family and businesses, as just 14% believe they’re taking their efforts ‘much more seriously’.” 

Interestingly, the survey also revealed that 73% of respondents believe that corporations have a duty to protect the environment.

Almost one in five (16%) admit they’ve gone so far as to “cancel” a brand for their non-eco-friendly practices.

Some shoppers will only spend money at sustainable businesses. SWNS

In fact, 12% of respondents believe that the sustainability factor is the most important part when it comes to making a purchase. 

One in five (21%) are willing to pay a higher price for something that’s sustainable, as well as waiting for longer shipping times (23%). 

Almost half (48%) say they’re already experiencing the effects of climate change firsthand, and of the 20% who aren’t a quarter of those respondents are concerned that they will in their lifetime. 

This may be why almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents agree that every month should be Earth Month.

“Nearly half (49%) of survey respondents remain unswayed to make a sustainable purchase based on a company’s Earth Month sales,” said Clayton Wiley, Vice President of Sales at Stasher. “Which is all the more reason as to why we should collectively celebrate the Earth every day and make choices that are better for the planet beyond April.” 

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