Americans are growing increasingly skeptical of corporate “greenwashing.” A March 2013 Harris Poll of 2,276 adults found almost 60 percent of respondents believe that labeling food or other products as organic is just an excuse to charge more.
"What surprised us most was that while Americans are showing more concern for the environment, they aren't necessarily willing to pay more to do anything about it," said Mike de Vere, President of the Harris Poll. "While Americans feel better about the economy, many are wary of the 'greenwashing' concept that gives companies a chance to cash in on consumers who want to help the planet but are confused by all the eco-friendly jargon."
According to the Harris Poll, eight in 10 Americans (80 percent) say they will seek out green products, but only three in 10 (30 percent) are willing to pay extra for them. Sixty percent of respondents say they prefer to use environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies because of the chemicals contained in traditional cleaning products.
Americans’ preference for environmentally-friendly products is often distorted by incorrect perceptions, and those misperceptions are often evident in food products. For instance, recent research shows that organic produce and meat typically aren’t any better for you than conventional varieties when it comes to vitamin and nutrient content, but more than half of Americans (51 percent) believe that organic foods are healthier than non-organic. Forty-one percent think organic food tastes better and /or fresher than non-organic.
The greatest skepticism about organics came from men, with 63 percent saying that the labeling of food or other products as organic is an excuse to charge more, compared to 54 percent of women.
Regarding overall concern for the environment, 38 percent of respondents said, “I personally care a great deal about the current state, and future, of the environment.” That’s up from last year’s total of 31 percent, according to Harris.
Overall, Harris found that efforts to be green seem to have leveled off, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) making the same amount of effort to be environmentally conscious as a year ago, up considerably from 2009 (5 percent).