Think Globally Act Locally Takes On A Whole New Meaning

“Think Globally – Act Locally” Takes on New Meaning with Recent Green Research Study Findings

Consumers equate the word “green” with the environment. Ironically, when they “act” green it is much closer to home – literally and figuratively and the reasons are more personal. Of over 2000 respondents in a research study conducted by The Haystack Group earlier this year, 59% consider “environmentally friendly” as the factor most typically associated with a green lifestyle, product or service. With all the recent media attention on global warming, urban heat island effect and other environmental concerns it is little wonder that consumers frame the “green” topic in an environmental context. Although “green” has health implications as well, only 30% of respondents felt that the health/wellness factor was very typical of “green” practices. The disconnect is that people are more likely to make green choices that benefit their health, not the environment.

When asked to rank the order in which they would incorporate “green” in five categories, the category most commonly ranked as first was the body; more respondents indicated they were most likely to change the food/grocery and beauty/hygiene products they consume than any other category. The home category was most commonly the second category where respondents would adopt green habits, such as switching to green cleaning supplies or using HEPA® filter vacuums. Most respondents identified the third category where they would make changes as outside the home, like using green lawn treatments or pest control. Respondents ranked environmental/economical choices such as purchasing a hybrid automobile or energy efficient appliances fourth.The least likely practice consumers would adopt is getting involved, such as donating time or money to a charitable “green” organization.








Body (Food/groceries, cosmetics, hygiene, laundry detergent)






Inside Home (cleaning supplies, HEPA filter vacuums)






Outside Home (lawn treatment, pest control)






Lifestyle (Hybrid autos, energy efficient appliances)






Involvement (volunteering, donating money)






Respondents were asked, “Which of the following is important to consider when thinking about adopting a green lifestyle in the home.  Please rank order with 1 begin the most important to consider and 2 the second most important, and so on.”


The greatest motivator for adopting green practices is health.  Respondents ranked negative long term effects of chemicals on the body as the most important thing to consider when thinking about adopting a green lifestyle in the home (36%) and negative short term affects of chemicals on the body as the second most important (23%).  The environment was not a primary concern for respondents.  Only 18% of respondents ranked known environmental effects of chemicals and toxins as the most important consideration.  Just 9% cited global warming as their primary motivation.

Shifting Purchasing Behaviors

Consumers indicate their change is imminent.  A full 77% of survey respondents would purchase green products over traditional products if available. Respondents planned to change their purchasing behaviors in the near term, with 46% reporting somewhat or very likely to make a change within the next year, twice as many as responded somewhat or very unlikely to change behaviors within the next year. 


This research suggests that “green” is synonymous with environmental responsibility and those respondents who correlate green practices to health concerns are in the minority. Yet consumers are more likely to adopt green practices for health reasons than environmental ones. 

These statistics suggest that respondents want to live a healthier lifestyle more than they want to live a “greener” lifestyle.  Marketers should take note that this paradigm may extrapolate to general consumer populations and those wishing to garner larger market share may wish to emphasize those product attributes that offer personal benefit.

Also, people seem to see the correlation between green and catastrophic health prevention, but not the correlation between green the promotion of overall wellness in a day-to-day context.  The implication is that more educational messaging is necessary to help consumers make purchasing decisions that help them achieve the healthier lifestyle they seek.

Lots of noise out there about plastic bottles and plastic bags using petroleum, a non-renewable resource.  No one is saying that plastic bottles contain plasticizers which leech into the water that humans then ingest.  A classic example of the media using one angle when another might have stronger results.

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