Protestors holding climate change banners at a protest

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NEW YORK — Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe climate change will be catastrophic within their lifetime (68%), according to new research. A survey of 2,000 U.S. adults looked at their sentiments around environmentalism and found that Gen Z (84%) and millennials (75%) are especially likely to feel like climate change will affect their future.

However, just over a third of all respondents feel informed about environmentalism (35%). And one in nine admit they’re not confident in understanding how waste affects the environment, but most would be interested in learning more (77%).

The survey also looked at people’s thoughts when it comes to doing their part and found that more people think that large corporations have a greater responsibility to society (30%) by donating or standing up for important causes — above individuals and the governmentMillennials especially agree with this (34%), while Gen Z strongly believes that individuals have the most responsibility (49%).

What are Americans in response to climate change?

One in eight people don’t think their ethical choices such as recycling, attending protests or signing petitions have an impact on the world, with Gen X (13%) and baby boomer (20%) respondents primarily believing this. Conducted by OnePoll for Chinet, the survey found that many agree that it can be hard to be informed, with 72 percent saying that there’s more social pressure than information about what they can do to make lasting change.

Still, seven in 10 feel they’ve become more ethically responsible as they’ve gotten older (71%). The average person reflects on how they could have made different decisions in the past — such as not being as wasteful, being more attentive, etc. — three times a week.

One in eight people don’t think recycling is actually helping better the planet. (Photo by Lara Jameson from Pexels)

Over the past year, Americans have been taking small steps in their everyday lives to do the right thing such as starting conversations with their loved ones about their decisions or perspectives (39%), donating clothing (37%) and purchasing sustainable products (36%). Other regular habits include avoiding littering (51%), recycling (49%) and using compostable eating materials (cutlery, plates, cups, etc.) (46%).

Even with their best foot forward, three in four agree that no one can make the “right” decision all of the time (76%) and a similar percentage believe people should be forgiving of others making what they perceive as ethically-questionable decisions (78%).

The average person admitted to doing something they know is “wrong” three times a week, like throwing away glass instead of recycling it or throwing trash on the ground. Interestingly, baby boomers would be the hardest on themselves if they were to falter from their goals (15%).

“We believe everyone should have a place around the table, be welcomed with open arms and a full cup,” says Chinet® brand manager Melissa Rakos, in a statement. “As part of our 2030 strategy, we are committed to innovating our products to be recyclable, compostable or reusable in order to help consumers enjoy gatherings knowing they are taking steps toward being more sustainable.”

Turning against brands that aren’t eco-friendly

When asked about the businesses and brands they want to support, a majority of Americans said it’s important that they share the same values (73%). Gen Z (77%) and millennials (82%) were especially likely to say this is the case, while respondents from Gen X (19%) and baby boomers (33%) said it was unimportant.

Nearly half of all respondents have stopped supporting or using a brand because their values didn’t align with something they’ve said or done (48%), with the average person leaving five brands behind.

“Sometimes hosts need an easy solution. As consumers are committed to taking small steps in their everyday lives to do the right thing, they should have options that support these initiatives,” adds Rakos. “Hosts and guests alike shouldn’t worry about sacrificing convenience for sustainability. Utilizing products that are made from recycled material and riding unrecyclable foam items completely is an easy way for people to get started with making these changes in their everyday lives.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Chinet between Feb. 21 and Feb. 24, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds' Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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Associate Editor