Green terror: Climate change gives half of adults ‘eco-anxiety,’ the fear of ‘environmental doom’

NEW YORK — Even with a pandemic, remote work, and isolation on their minds, plenty of people are still finding room to stress out about the environment. A new survey finds four in 10 Americans have experienced “eco-anxiety” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OnePoll survey of 2,000 Americans revealed half of respondents have experienced this feeling and 83 percent of those people said they felt it for the first time after March 2020. In addition to that, 75 percent of respondents who’ve ever experienced eco-anxiety — a chronic fear of environmental doom — said they’re currently experiencing it.

Americans are becoming more worried about the planet

American eco-anxietyCommissioned by Avocado Green Mattress, the survey delved into the top reasons respondents are experiencing eco-anxiety and how these feelings are following them into 2021.

Sixty-four percent said the top cause of their eco-anxiety is the risk climate-related extreme weather like hurricanes, droughts, or wildfires poses to them or their loved ones. “Watching media coverage of climate-related extreme weather” (56%) finished in second place with “watching people not take environmentally-friendly actions in their day-to-day life” (45%) rounding out the top three.

Unfortunately, this anxiety isn’t likely to go away. Of those currently experiencing eco-anxiety, 86 percent said they expect these feelings to increase throughout 2021. There is some optimism however, as 65 percent of respondents believe the world has a better chance to fight climate change now than in recent years. Almost the same number (64%) are hopeful of seeing progress in the fight against climate change in the next four years.

“We’re hopeful that optimism around the climate crisis will lead to action — because the time is now,” says Avocado Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer Mark Abrials in a statement. “And we all have to do our part, from pressuring our elected officials, to voting with our dollar and choosing companies that support a greener, cleaner future.”

More American consumers are going green thanks to climate change fears

American eco-anxietyThe survey finds 69 percent of respondents believe it’s important to purchase products from environmentally-friendly companies. Another 24 percent said they always research a company to see if they’re environmentally-friendly before making a purchase.

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell whether companies are truly “green.” In fact, 43 percent believe they’ve seen companies participate in “greenwashing,” — where they spread disinformation with the aim of presenting an environmentally-friendly image.

Of those who believe they’ve seen greenwashing, 72 percent believe they’ve fallen victim to these false claims. The survey also reveals 23 percent of all respondents believe greenwashing is “very common,” and another 36 percent believe it’s “somewhat” common. Three in four people believe there should be regulations in place to stop companies from participating in greenwashing.

“It’s good business to say you’re a ‘green’ company, but when it comes to doing good, action is all that matters,” Abrials adds. “To avoid greenwashing, don’t take a company’s word for what they do, look for third-party certifications that validate their claims.”

“Organizations like B Corp, Climate Neutral, the Global Organic Textile Standard for the highest standards of environmental and social responsibility, and 1 percent For the Planet for verified giving in support of these critical issues. It’s up to each of us to do our homework and choose who we support carefully.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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