Image Source: Flickr. By: NatalieMaynor.

A recent survey, conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities, showed that although many Americans like the idea of conservation, most do not practice it in their everyday lives.

The survey was conducted between December 24, 2009 and January 3, 2010, and included nearly 1,000 adult Americans. While many Americans feel it is “very important” or “somewhat important” to turn off unnecessary lights (92%), lower the thermostat in winter (83%), and use public transportation or carpool (73%), there are quite a number who don’t always follow through with their conservation talk. Check out some of these ratings:

  • Recycling at Home – 88% say it’s important, but only 51% actually do it.
  • Re-usable Shopping Bags – 81% say it’s important to use them, but only 33% do.
  • Buying Local Food – 76% say it’s important to buy food grown locally, but only 26% actually do.
  • Walking/Biking – 76% say this is better to do than driving, but only 15% do.
  • Public Transportation/Carpool – 72% claim this is important, but you’ll only find 10% actually doing it.

Despite some of these conflicting answers, there are several positive things that came from the survey, as well. For example: at least 70% of Americans feel that turning off electronics is important and actually do it. The survey also showed that nearly 33% of Americans rewarded companies that took steps to reduce global warming in 2009, by buying their products. However, only 11% bothered to contact government officials on the issue of global warming.

Edward Maibach, director of the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University, stated:

“When it comes to taking a stand against global warming, concerned Americans are much more likely to take action through consumer purchases rather than as citizens. This lack of citizen engagement may help to explain why Congress is being so timid in addressing climate change.”

You can check out the full survey results on the Yale site here (.pdf file).