Public Opinion Research Shows American Interest in Living Green

A new report offers insight into public opinion about the environment, including the need to conserve and safeguard the health of our ocean.

"The latest research indicates that most Americans want to be seen as 'being green'," said Bill Mott, director of The Ocean Project, the lead organization on a collaborative market research initiative that is now the most extensive such effort ever undertaken on any environmental issue. "Americans are looking for meaningful ways to reinforce and express this self-perception of 'green-friendliness,' something that is especially true among youth."

Dr. Wei Ying Wong, Communications Project Coordinator, stated, "Americans may not be looking to make a wholesale shift to a more sustainable lifestyle, but it is clear that Americans are open to taking a few steps in a sustainable direction and interested in seeing themselves as part of the solution rather than as part of the problem."

"The findings underscore the need to communicate in more personal terms, putting environmental issues in the context of stories about particular places, specific species, and personal actions rather than trying to overwhelm with facts and figures," added Dr. Wong. 

Three core findings from the new report, America and the Ocean, emphasize the importance of engaging youth: 

  • Adults are united in their support for teaching younger generations how to care for our blue planet, even while they themselves are divided on issues such as climate change.
  • Young Americans not only possess significantly higher levels of concern about the problems facing the world's ocean, and are most open to new information, but also are the most confident in their ability to make a difference.
  • Young Americans may not be the decision-makers in the household but they are increasingly major "influencers" when it comes to making choices related to our ocean and the environment and becoming more "green."

"This study continues to provide valuable insight into public audiences' understanding and behaviors toward the ocean and our coasts," said Louisa Koch, Director of Education at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "We at NOAA are pleased to support this ongoing research and have found these data useful in the carrying out our own educational programs related to the ocean and climate change."

The research also reinforces the fact that the public expects and trusts aquariums, zoos, and museums to offer this guidance, both onsite and online.

Julie Packard, executive director of Monterey Bay Aquarium, commented, "This survey has important implications for all of us working at institutions that aim to inspire our audiences and the public to protect the ocean. It points to ways in which we can be more effective. It confirms that people are eager for aquariums and zoos to take a stronger leadership role. It challenges us to provide people with practical steps that will make a difference. It confirms that, working together, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference for the future of our ocean."

John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium Institute, commented, "Aquariums, zoos, and museums need to nurture the energy and environmental enthusiasm of our country's youth. Together we can help channel this generation's concern for the world's environment and ocean by providing hands-on opportunities, practical knowledge, and action-oriented avenues help create a new movement to inspire care for our blue planet."

The report was informed by a series of national tracking surveys conducted since 2009, and, most importantly, by comprehensive national research completed in April-May 2011, with a sample size of 12,000 Americans. The survey was conducted online, and respondents were screened, certified, and paid. The sample accurately reflects the U.S. population, and the overall confidence level is 99%. IMPACTS conducted the market research for The Ocean Project. The survey expands upon a landmark research initiative conducted 10 years ago by The Ocean Project.

The new survey was made possible with support from the NOAA Office of Education and conducted in collaboration with Monterey Bay Aquarium and the National Aquarium. Copies of America and the Ocean are available at:

SOURCE The Ocean Foundation