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Americans' 'Green' Roots Begin to Wither

Many green behaviors have declined since 2009 . / Credit: Wilting plant image via Shutterstock

America's enthusiasm for going green may have run out of gas, a new survey shows. Many green behaviors, including those capable of saving consumers money, have declined since 2009. And considerably fewer U.S. adults now express concern for, and awareness of, environmental issues, in spite of a slight uptick in the number of people professing to be green.

Since summer 2009, Harris Interactive, a research organization, has been tracking Americans' attitudes toward the environment as well as their engagement in environmentally friendly, or "green," behaviors. The latest poll, which surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. adults last month, showed a continued decline in a number of green behaviors.

Since 2009, U.S. adults are less inclined to reuse things instead of throwing them away or buying new items (65 percent in 2009 versus 61 percent in 2012),make an effort to use less water (60 percent 2009, 30 percent 2012) and buy food in bulk (33 percent 2009, 30 percent 2012).

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Americans have also become less concerned about the eco-friendly pedigree of the foods they put into their bodies, the survey found. Between 2009 and 2012 there was decline in purchasing all-natural products (18 percent 2009, 16 percent 2012), purchasing organic products (17 percent 2009, 15 percent 2012) and purchasing locally grown produce (39 percent 2009, 36 percent 2012).

Attitudes have changed as well, the surveys shows. Fewer Americans describe themselves as "environmentally conscious" (30 percent 2009, 27 percent 2012), or say they personally care a great deal about the current state and the future of the environment (36 percent 2009, 31 percent 2012).

Most significant, Harris said, in 2012 only one in three U.S. adults (34 percent) say they are concerned about "the planet we are leaving behind for future generations"— an almost 10 percentage point decrease since 2009 (43 percent).

Despite the decline in the observance of green habits, though, there's been a slight increase in the number of Americans who describe themselves as conservationists (17 percent 2009, 20 percent 2012), as "green" (13 percent 2009, 17 percent 2012) and as environmentalists (13 percent 2009, 16 percent 2012). We may not practice, but we continue to preach.

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.