Pew Research: Despite Environmental Concerns, Americans Still Haven’t Adopted Eco-Friendly Lifestyles

Los Angeles downtown skyline sunset buildings highwayA Pew Research Center report in Nov. 2015 found that nearly 75% of Americans are concerned about climate change, and two-thirds of the population believe the country will have to make significant lifestyle changes in order to reduce the effects of climate change.

Yet the next question remains: are Americans actually trying to make those lifestyle changes?

The Pew Research Center conducted another survey and released an updated report which suggests that the majority of Americans want to make eco-friendly changes — but only in theory. In reality, actual changes, from driving less to purchasing energy-efficient LED light bulbs more, are more of “a mixed bag.”

According to the survey, 95% of new U.S. passenger cars still run on gasoline, and this is actually two percentage points higher than the number of gas-powered cars in 2013. And as far as public transport and carpooling goes, neither one has proved more appealing than driving to work solo.

On the bright side, Americans who still drive aren’t driving as much as they used to. The Federal Highway Administration reported that the average driver in 2004 drove around 14,900 miles per year, and this dropped down to an average of 14,000 miles per year.

This trend might be connected to the increase in Americans who are telecommuting to work or freelancing, and the connection between travel and work is much more significant than one might think.

About 14% of employed adults say they’ve switched jobs just to shorten the commute, and as Global Workplace Analytics found, anywhere between 80-90% of the American workforce would telecommute to work, at least part-time, if it was offered.

While at home, it seems that being eco-friendly isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Homeowners are using 33% less energy for heating their homes in 2013 than they were using in 2009, and sales of the energy-sucking incandescent light bulb have dropped by 66% compared to sales in 2013.

On the other hand, despite a lot of encouragement to recycle and reuse items, Americans are still throwing out about as much trash now as they were in the early 2000s. Recycling rates skyrocketed in the late 1990s — and people are producing slightly less trash than they were two years ago — but the overall recycling trends and trashing trends have pretty much stagnated.

Right now, it’s time for Americans to decide: will the country put its money where its mouth is?

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