I’m All For the Environment…But You Can’t Have My iPod

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A new "Eco Pulse" survey of just over 1,000 American households finds that while Americans are trying to buy greener products and be more environmentally conscious with their purchases…but don’t want to give up modern conveniences. When asked if they would give up cell phones, microwaves, air conditioning, computers, or iPods, most Americans said "no"—even if they thought those products were harming the environment.

"Consumers don’t want to give up the modern conveniences of life," said Suzanne Shelton, whose firm The Shelton Group conducted the survey. "We’re all basically saying, ‘I’ll be green as long it doesn’t make me uncomfortable or inconvenienced.’"

Some 38 percent of survey respondents would be willing to give up their iPods if they were hurting the environment…which, of course, means 62 percent would not be willing to give up their precious media players. The percentages go down from there: only 35 percent would give up their dishwasher, 25 percent would give up their microwave oven, 21 percent would give up their cell phone, 14 percent would give up air conditioning, and only 13 percent would give up their televisions. Even less popular sacrifices on the altar of eco-consciousness? Computers and cars, with only 7 and 6 percent of respondents, respectively, willing to give them up.

Over a fifth of respondents—21 percent—weren’t willing to give up anything, even if they knew it was harming the environment.

The Shelton Group speculates that the most effective way for consumers to adopt green products it to make environmentally-friendly products as convenient and easy to use as the less eco-savvy items they replace. Examples would be Energy Star appliances—which typically require no additional effort from consumers after purchase—and straight-ahead replacements for existing products.

[Update 26-Jun-2009: The Shelton Group has released "corrected" information about its survey: now the firm says some 42 percent of respondents would be willing to give up their iPods for the environment…meaning 58 percent would not. Some 38 percent would give up dishwashers, 28 percent would surrender microwave ovens, 23 percent would give up cell phones, 16 percent would say goodby to air conditioning, and 14 percent would bid adieu to TV. Only 8 percent would sacrifice cars, and 7 percent would give up computers. And the number of people not willing to give up anything at all? That would be 24 percent. We’re don’t know where the discrepancies between Shelton Group’s first and second sets of numbers game from, but bone up on the arithmetic, folks!]