Americans Like To Say They're Eco-Friendly -- They're Not

Only one in four does more than recycling and turning off the lights, survey finds.

Calling yourself an environmentally conscious person doesn't actually make you one. And aside from simple tasks like turning off lights, Americans overwhelmingly ignore the environmental impact of their day-to-day actions.

That's according to the real estate website Trulia, which surveyed more than 2,000 Americans, as part of a wider study, about living green and how best to reduce their carbon footprint.

"When it comes to the environment, people kind of want to have their cake and eat it too," study author Felipe Chacon, an economist at Trulia, told The Huffington Post.

Chacon writes in a report published Thursday on the company's site that 79 percent of Americans "agree that they consider themselves an environmentally conscious person," while only 6 percent strongly disagree.

But roughly three in four people don't take action beyond recycling and hitting the light switch.

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Chacon analyzed national, political and sociodemographic differences among adults ages 18 and older for the study.

He found that money is a barrier to being environmentally conscious -- higher education makes people believe they are better stewards of the planet, and Democrats are "more likely to walk the walk" than Republicans in terms of taking action, Chacon writes.

Oh, and sorry, millennials, you are not America's greenest generation and could stand to learn a few things from your elders.


Chacon told HuffPost he found it interesting that living in a smaller home was low on the list of actions people considered to be eco-friendly.

Another striking finding is that millennial women were most likely to disagree when the survey asked if they consider themselves to be environmentally conscious. (29 percent disagreed, compared to 19 percent of millennial men.)

Chacon said in his report that he believes most people aspire to do what is best to protect the planet, but there are "clear time, convenience, and cost limitations."

"The degree to which these limitations push people away from a more green way of living is strongly affected by how they agree or disagree that they are environmentally conscious," he writes. "If changing minds on the environment is hard, then changing behavior is even harder."

Ultimately, we're going to need a lot more than just high-efficiency washers and TVs to help the planet, he warns. Real, substantive action is going to require "collective changes in personal choices and behavior.”


Read Trulia's full report here.

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