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Two-Thirds of Americans See Long-Term Effects on the Planet as More Important than Short Term Economic Effects

Parents more concerned about the planet we're leaving behind for future generations - but are no more likely to be taking "green" action

NEW YORK, April 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- As Earth Day approaches, a new Harris Poll takes stock of American attitudes around the environment and how much responsibility its inhabitants take in preserving its future. Well over a third of Americans say the statements "I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations" (38%) and "I personally care about the current state, and future, of the environment" (36%) describe them completely or very well, with an additional three in ten (29% each) saying each describes them fairly well.

Harris Poll Logo.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,234 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 17, 2014. (Full results, including data tables, available here)

How Green Are You?
Roughly three in ten each feel the statements "I am environmentally conscious" (31%) and "I feel a personal responsibility for taking care of the environment" (28%) describe them completely or very well, with an additional three in ten each (30% and 31%, respectively) saying each describes them fairly well.

  • A majority also indicates that they speak out on behalf of the environment, with 27% saying that "I encourage others to be more environmentally-friendly" describes them completely or very well and the same percentage saying it describes them fairly well.
  • Fewer than two in ten feel the labels "green" (19%), "conservationist" (19%) and "environmentalist" (15%) describe them completely or very well, with roughly one-fourth saying each describes them fairly well (26%, 28% and 22%, respectively).
  • Americans are less likely to indicate each of these describe them completely or very well than they were in 2013 ("green" self assessments have dropped from 22% to 19%, "conservationist" from 23% to 19%" and "environmentalist" from 18% to 15%).

Women and Children First
Those with children under 18 are more likely than those without to say show strong alignment with the statement "I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations" (44% with vs. 37% without).

  • However, they're not significantly more likely than their counterparts to describe themselves as environmentally conscious (32% and 31%, respectively), to indicate feeling a personal responsibility for taking care of the environment (30% and 27%, respectively) or to indicate encouraging others to be more environmentally-friendly (30% and 26%).

In contrast, women – who are more likely than men to align themselves very much or completely with the statements "I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations" (42% women vs. 34% men) and "I personally care a great deal about the current state, and future, of the environment" (39% and 32%, respectively) – also show a greater propensity to translate these attitudes into action. In addition:

  • Women are more likely to indicate encouraging others to be more environmentally-friendly (30% women vs. 24% men) and to be making more effort than a year ago to be environmentally-conscious (38% and 29%, respectively).
  • They are also more likely to seek out green products (83% women vs. 78% men), though they're no more willing to pay extra for such products (28% each).
  • They are also not significantly more likely to be making more of an effort than a year ago to be environmentally conscious (36% and 33%, respectively).

Green Still a Go
Many Americans are making an effort to be more environmentally conscious, with roughly one third of Americans (34%) agreeing that they're making more of an effort to do so than a year ago. However, Americans are still divided on whether it's easy (45% this year; 47% last year) or difficult (50% and 49%, respectively) to live a green or environmentally conscious lifestyle.

The Color of Money
Two-thirds of U.S. adults agree in theory that long term effects on the planet are more important than short term effects on the economy (67%) – but are they as willing to put the planet's interests ahead of money when it's their money?

  • Eight in ten Americans (80%, identical to last year) say they seek out green products – but fewer than three in ten (28%, on par with 30% in 2013) express a willingness to spend even a little bit extra for such products.
  • Over a third will seek out green products only so long as the cost is the same (37%, up from 33% in 2013) and 15% (down slightly from 18% last year) will only do so if those products will save them money.

Click here for a look at American attitudes specifically on weather and climate change.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,234 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #34, April 10, 2014

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll
On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
The Harris Poll
[email protected]

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