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Environmental Protection & Preservation

90% of Americans Concerned About Environment

Soaring energy prices, an increase in global warming, news about the rise in CO2 levels and pollution, and rapid deforestation may explain why 90% of Americans are somewhat and very concerned about the future of the environment. This is the finding from the latest GMIPoll (, a global survey of 9,000 online consumers in nine countries powered by global market intelligence solutions provider GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.).

With Earth Day quickly approaching, the good news is that more people in the U.S. and around the world are embracing alternative energy to reduce the strain on the environment and dependency on fossil fuel, as well as incorporating "green" habits into their daily routine.

Americans worry a "great deal" or "fair amount" about a number of environmental issues, including global warming, the loss of natural habitat for wildlife and the loss of tropical rain forests; however, the GMIPoll finds that the most significant concerns are the following:

-- Pollution of lakes, rivers and reservoirs (85%)
-- Air pollution (82%)
-- Using up the country's natural resources (79%)
-- Contamination of soil and water by toxic waste (78%)

As most of the U.S.' drinking water comes from lakes and reservoirs, it is not a surprise Americans are worried about pollution in this area. Nearly 56% of respondents are somewhat or very concerned about the possibility of running out of clean, drinkable water in their lifetime.

"Although it's unlikely that most Americans will face a shortage of clean water, it's a serious problem for 20 percent of the world's population," said Hunter Lovins, a professor of sustainable management at Presidio School of Management (San Francisco) and president of Natural Capitalism, Inc., a non-profit that consults with companies on profitable ways to protect the environment.

When asked the best ways to decrease dependency on foreign oil, 88% of respondents indicated that buying vehicles that use alternative fuels is somewhat or most effective, while 89% of Americans note that investing in alternative energy is somewhat or most effective. This is compared with other choices, such as using public transportation, which was embraced by 70% of respondents.

"It is encouraging that so many Americans favor clean energy, but I hope people will also embrace energy efficiency, a quicker and cheaper way to reduce the dependency on foreign oil," Lovins adds. "They will join a growing number of companies who are reducing carbon emissions and saving money by using resources more efficiently." In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that increasing energy efficiency throughout the economy could cut national energy use by 10% or more in 2010 and approximately 20% in 2020, with net economic benefits for consumers and businesses.

When asked about the economy and the environment, 49.4% of respondents slightly or strongly disagree that low prices and more jobs today are more important than protecting the environment for the future (vs. 15.9% who slightly agree and 5.5% who strongly agree).

It's Easy Being Green

According to the GMIPoll, Americans are willing to spend more money on "green" products. The poll shows that in the past 12 months, nearly half (49%) of respondents bought toilet paper or kitchen towels made from recycled paper a fair or great amount; while close to 70% use lower energy light bulbs a fair or great amount despite the higher cost (an average 60 watt light bulb costs $.42 vs. $2.99 for a low-energy one with the same wattage, source: Light Bulbs Etc.).

Additionally, respondents indicate that they incorporate other green practices in the home on a regular basis:

-- 62% recycle cardboard, glass or plastic containers
-- 67% purposely cut down on the amount of electricity/gas their household uses
-- 53% cut down on the use of water

Furthermore, a good percentage of Americans are investing in organic with close to 37% indicating that they bought organic food a fair or great amount in the past 12 months. Additionally, 40% of respondents indicate that they avoided buying products whose packaging, when disposed of, causes potential harm to wildlife.

The nine countries polled for this study were the United States, Australia, Canada, the UK, Germany, Brazil, France, China and Russia.

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