Is the Lack of Green Guilt Fault of the Economy or Awareness?

According to an Opinion Research Corporation survey conducted for Call2Recycle®, 50 percent fewer Americans admit to suffering from "green guilt" than last year, with just 1 in 10 consumers experiencing guilt over their environmental behavior.

Green guilt is the feeling consumers have when they aren't doing everything they know that they can and should be doing to protect the environment.

For the past three years, Call2Recycle has been tracking Americans' level of green guilt. This year's substantial decline could be attributed to increased action on the part of consumers, whether it's buying green products, conserving electricity, or recycling. But on the other hand, it could arise out of environmental apathy brought about by financial concerns. In a slumping economy, people are overwhelmingly motivated by cost-savings; as a result, the environment slips in importance and green guilt doesn't even register on their radar.

"It's encouraging to see that consumers are feeling less guilt over their environmental actions, and based on the results of this survey, we'd like to believe that it is because people are doing more for the environment," said Carl Smith, chief executive officer, Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp. (RBRC). "We found that the majority of Americans look for products with green features or benefits and are willing to pay more for them, recognizing that green choices can also have a lasting economic benefit."

When asked about motivations for purchasing green products, less than 30 percent of respondents indicated that they do so because of peer pressure. Rather, the majority of Americans recognize the economic benefits of environmentally friendly behavior, with nearly 8 out of 10 indicating that they buy green because they see a long-term cost-savings. In fact, more than half of respondents indicate a willingness to pay a premium for eco-friendly products (57 percent) or services from eco-conscious companies (55 percent).

The survey found that four out of five respondents (84 percent) are likely to recycle household materials like glass, plastic, and newspapers, while 74 percent will buy compact florescent light bulbs. The overwhelming majority of respondents (92 percent) currently recycle at least one item. Rechargeable battery recycling efforts are on the rise, up 5 percentage points over last year, with 42 percent of Americans recycling used rechargeable batteries, and 43 percent indicate that they recycle old cell phones.

"We're pleased to see rechargeable battery recycling rates increasing again this year and we hope that more consumers will join these efforts and take advantage of the Call2Recycle collection infrastructure," Smith continued.