Apr 11, 2022 9:00 AM ET

New CR Research Reveals Responsibility of Individuals, Businesses and Government in Protecting the Planet

YONKERS, N.Y. – As consumers across the country continue to face the danger posed by climate change and the impact on their wallets, Americans say their individual actions can make a difference, according to a nationally representative survey from Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit consumer research, testing, and advocacy organization.

The survey of 2,174 adults, which was fielded in January, found six out of ten (61 percent) Americans agree or strongly agree that their actions have a “meaningful impact on the environment.” In addition, seven out of ten (72 percent) people agree or strongly agree that their actions can help protect the environment.

When presented with a list of specific activities that could reduce impact on the environment, including recycling, avoiding products because the product is harmful to the environment, composting food waste, and using alternative means of transportation, recycling was the clear winner. Seven out of ten Americans (70 percent) say they often or always recycle used cans, bottles, or paper. That’s almost double the number (37 percent) who say they often or always avoid purchasing products because the product is harmful to the environment, and 29 percent who say they often or always buy products because their labels or advertising claim they are environmentally safe.

“Americans are embracing some sustainable behaviors, but convenience is important, too,” said Kristen Purcell, Chief Research Officer at Consumer Reports. “People are making changes that fit with their lifestyles, especially in their homes. They want low-hassle products and experiences, which our research has also shown can save time and money.”

87 percent of Americans say they have installed LED lightbulbs either in the last year or prior to the past year. 66 percent say they have at some point purchased a reusable version of a traditionally disposable item such as reusable plastic bags, straws, food wrap, or coffee filters, and 65 percent have installed appliances designed to use less water or electricity, such as an energy-efficient dishwasher or low-flow showerhead.

Looking ahead, of those who said they had never done these sustainable activities, when asked if they would consider doing so in the coming year, the most common was, again, installing LED lightbulbs (37 percent), followed by starting a food or herb garden (29 percent) and purchasing a reusable version of a traditionally disposable item (27 percent).

“There is interest among consumers to do something,” said Purcell. “However, more believe governments and businesses should bear most responsibility for protecting the planet as opposed to individual consumers.”

While most Americans do believe individuals’ actions affect the environment, more people see most responsibility lying with governments (71 percent) or with private businesses (62 percent) than with individuals (56 percent).

Contact Information

Name: Barrie Rosen
Job Title: Director, Communications