Whose Responsibility is Sustainable Consumerism?

women shoppingA new study titled Green AMPlified is aimed to “uncover how the growing ‘Green’ movement is impacting the way consumers perceive, evaluate and talk about companies and brands,” according to Anastasia Toomey of the AMP Agency which conducted the study of 18-49 year olds in April of this year.

The results of the study are very interesting, and at least one of the findings I find both interesting and frustrating. According to the survey, the majority of American consumers feel that corporations hold more of a responsibility to create environmental changes than individuals do.

According to the findings:

close to all American consumers (90%) believe that acting in an environmentally responsible way is important, but feel corporations hold most of the responsibility to implement change over their own personal efforts and are increasingly implementing eco-friendly evaluation into their product purchasing decisions.


over half (53%) of consumers factor a company’s social and environmental activities into their purchasing decisions and while overall, consumer’s personal actions to protect the environment show minimal sacrifice in terms of changing one’s lifestyle, consumers are ready to reward those companies that prove their commitment to the cause

So, it seems like what the survey found was that many Americans are willing to be greener with their purchases, if someone else will do the work for them. They aren’t willing to do any personal research or education. They are counting on corporations, whose main objective is usually profit not environmental good, to be the ones to do it.

This is a dangerous mindset. The report quotes one survey respondent, Patrick M. from California as saying,

Consumers are going to buy things and they are not always aware of the environmental impact of the product they are purchasing. Thus, the company needs to make an effort to minimize their environmental impact because they are more aware of their impact.

I think the time has come for individuals to be responsible for being aware of their impact when they are buying products. They should not leave it up to the corporations who make the products to educate them. Because really, I think the education that corporations are likely to provide is going to be slightly skewed.

While the findings of the study can be disturbing, there is some good news. It seems that this “it’s the corporation’s responsibility” attitude is found more in those born before 1982 than those born after. Millenials (those born between 1982 and 2003), are a more environmentally aware generation. Their actions are tied to environmental impact more than that of the boomer generation. Millenials see environmentalism as more of a personal responsibility. The report I read on the survey mentioned nothing about the specific mindset of the generation in between the boomers and millenials – generation X.

So it seems the youngest generation is seeing that sustainable consumerism and sustainability in general is their personal responsibility. Those of us in the older generations can learn a thing or two from them.

Image courtest of Wikimedia Commons

Read more about consumerism:

Eco Libris: An Interview with Diane Mac Eachern, Author of “Big Green Purse”

Why Can’t Every Product be Sustainable?

Shopping Greener

  1. Allison Clark

    Great article! New business should and would profit from having an investment in there service or products environmental impact. If your business is green than marketing that as a benefit is hugely profitable.( key point you walk the talk)Then conscious consumer will spend more on things they find of value.

    Go out and play…

  2. Meg

    Thanks for this post, I’ve been thjnking alot lately about the importance of accepting individual reponsibility for the environmental consequences of the choices we make in our day to day lives.

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