One Nation Under Smog: The effects of COVID-19 have put caring for the environment into focus for many Americans, as nearly a fifth of respondents agree we must take action now, according to new survey results from ecoATM Gazelle
- The coronavirus pandemic has finally united the nation around the issue of climate change with more than a third of respondents agreeing we can all make a difference
- Americans have already started to make behavioral changes with over half now recycling multiple times a week and a third wasting less food
- Two-thirds are still confused about what can and cannot be recycled
- Americans believe it's the Government and schools' responsibility to educate about recycling rules
SAN DIEGO, April 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- This Earth Day looks set to be more poignant than ever as the current pandemic has jolted nearly a fifth of all Americans (17 percent) into realizing the need to take action now to protect the planet.
The research1, commissioned earlier this month by reCommerce experts, ecoATMGazelle, reveals that since the coronavirus pandemic began, one in ten (10 percent) more people now agree climate change is a real thing and an additional third (30 percent) believe we can all make a difference. A further one in ten (10 percent) think the pandemic was Mother Nature's revenge for the way we have been exploiting the Earth for decades.
Just as quickly as the country has taken itself indoors to protect fellow Americans, the resulting changes to Americans' behavior have also had a positive impact on the planet and our environment. Triggered by the shelter-at-home directions, the research shows nearly half (46 percent) of Americans are driving less, resulting in a huge drop in air pollution across the globe and driving the EPA to report that LA currently has some of the cleanest air in the world2. What's more, the research shows that nearly one in ten (8 percent) hope to reduce what they put in the trash and as such, over half (59 percent) are now recycling multiple times a week.
It doesn't stop there, as almost a third (31 percent) say the pandemic has inspired them to waste less food and one in ten (10 percent) are more conscious about turning off lights, AC and heating when not in use, proving Americans really are using this opportunity to make a difference.
Despite the good intentions, confusion surrounding what can and cannot be recycled may still be holding Americans back from doing all that they truly can. About three out of five (58 percent) of the country feel confused on the matter, stemming from a lack of clear guidelines available (27 percent), no recycling facilities close to their home (7 percent) and a number never being taught how to recycle (6 percent).
Common consumer goods are perplexing Americans the most. The research reveals over a third (36 percent) of people incorrectly believe paper towels, receipts and aluminum foil can be recycled. Almost one in three (31 percent) think to-go coffee cups can be too, when in fact their unique paper to plastic material means only 1 in 400 can be recycled3, resulting in 50 billion take-out cups ending up in US landfills annually4.
According to the research, about three fifths (57 percent) were unaware devices such as laptops, cell phones and tablets could be recycled to help alleviate the global e-waste problem, which has become the fastest growing waste stream in the world.
"There is something bittersweet to be said about the fact that it has taken a pandemic of such proportions to rally the American people to understand there is only one planet and it is all of our responsibilities to care for it," said Yanyan Ji, chief marketing officer at ecoATM. "It's incredible to see from our research though that the nation has already sprung into action and made small changes to their lives that can make a significant and impactful difference."
"There is no denying mass confusion around recycling remains and the need for further clarity and guidance on what can and can't be recycled. This raises the question of whose responsibility is it to teach people how to recycle? Our research reveals Americans first think it's the Government's, followed by schools, companies who focus on sustainability, brands and then celebrities."