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Updated Environment Data for Earth Day 50th Anniversary

Updated Environment Data for Earth Day 50th Anniversary

Story Highlights

  • 18% of Americans say they are active participants in environmental movement
  • 65% think the environmental movement has done more good than harm
  • 86% voluntarily recycle; 8% invest based on companies' environmental record

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the world marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, Gallup is releasing its latest trend data about the environmental movement and Americans' efforts to support it. The full results are available here (PDF download).

Views of Environmental Movement -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the environmental movement in the U.S. has definitely (20%) or probably (45%) done more good than harm. Conversely, one-third think it has probably (25%) or definitely (8%) done more harm than good. The combined percentage who think it has done more good than harm is down from 76% in Gallup's first measurement, from 1992.

Support for Environmental Movement -- 18% of Americans characterize themselves as active participants in the environmental movement and 44% say they are sympathetic to the movement but not active, while 30% are neutral toward the movement and 7% unsympathetic.

Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are much more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents to say they are active participants (24% vs. 14%, respectively) or sympathetic to the movement (57% vs. 30%).

When Gallup first asked this question in 2000, 16% described themselves as active participants and 55% as sympathizers.

Efforts to Support Environmental Movement -- Among a list of 15 actions that Americans can take to help the environment, majorities report that they have done seven of them in the past year. Voluntarily recycling (86%) tops the list. The least common actions are contacting a business to complain that its products are harmful to the environment (10%) and investing based on the environmental record of companies (8%).

Americans' Actions to Help the Environment
Which of these, if any, have you, yourself, done in the past year?
Yes, have done
Voluntarily recycled newspapers, glass, aluminum, motor oil or other items 86
Reduced your household's use of energy 76
Tried to use less water in your household 73
Used reusable shopping bags at the grocery store instead of the standard plastic or paper bags 72
Avoided using certain products that harm the environment 69
Replaced standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent light bulbs 68
Bought product specifically because you thought it was better for the environment 66
Contributed money to an environmental, conservation or wildlife preservation group 32
Voted for or worked for candidates because of their position on environmental issues 27
Signed a petition supporting an environmental group or some environmental protection effort 26
Contacted a public official about an environmental issue 19
Attended a meeting concerning the environment 18
Been active in a group or organization that works to protect the environment 18
Contacted business to complain about its products because they harm the environment 10
Bought or sold stocks or mutual funds based on the environmental record of the companies 8
Each item based on approcimately 600 national adults.
GALLUP, Feb. 17-28, 2020

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