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Sunday, June 14, 2009

What is a Conscious Consumer?

A conscious consumer "makes informed buying decisions that reduce their environmental impact," according to the non-profit organization, New Dream. In order to find out more about conscious consumers, New Dream conducted a survey of 2,271 of their affiliates. The survey asked questions about buying habits, lifestyle choices, and activism.

Eighty-seven percent of the respondents said they were making efforts to lead a more sustainable life. Of the 87 percent, 81 percent buy green household products, and 88 percent discontinued purchasing plastic water bottles. Seventy-eight percent have considered or have become a vegetarian, 90 percent drive less, 93 percent reduce utility use, and 87 percent conserve water.

Sixty-four percent of all respondents rated “living in accordance with their values” as a “very important” motivation for consumer decisions. Seventy percent said they had contacted politicians or agencies at least once in the last two years, only three percent said sustainability, health and justice never affected how they vote.

Researchers in Britain found the following results when conducting similar surveys:

  • Conscious consumers tend to understand their practices as expressive of political orientations and as political actions in themselves
  • Many conscious consumers see the expansion of alternative and ethical options in the marketplace as a successful result of the efforts of conscious consumers like themselves
  • Conscious consumers tend to see themselves as part of a broader network of citizens and not as atomized consumers in the marketplace
National Geographic and the international polling firm GlobeScan conducted a survey about sustainable consumption of 17,000 consumers in 17 countries. The survey found an increase in "environmentally friendly consumer behavior" in 13 countries from last year. Developed countries ranked ninth to thirteenth, with developing countries occupying the top spots.

Consumers in 11 of the countries surveyed are more likely to keep the heating and cooling settings lower to save energy. Consumers are also more likely to wash laundry in cold water to save energy.

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