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March 30, 2012 at 2:55 PMComments: 3 Faves: 0

Poll Shows: Littering is More Taboo than Smoking and Cheating on Taxes

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the NatuREport Blog Series

Welcome back to NatuREport! This week in the news: a new study has shown that eco-friendly behavior has reached a cultural tipping point – littering is now seen as more embarrassing than smoking or cheating on your taxes!

Attempting to live an environmentally friendly life can be a tricky thing. On the one hand, society is constantly bombarding us with messages that show us that going green is in, that it’s trendy. On the other hand, in the real world you’re often seen as some kind of fanatic if you make an effort to “green” your life. Living a disposable lifestyle, of course, is much easier.

So if you don’t go green, you’ll be looked down upon for not taking care of our planet. If you do, you’ll probably be labeled either an extremist or a bandwagon-hopper. Catch-22. Obviously, it’s better go green than not to, but still – it can be frustrating.

Well, according to a recent poll, the tides seem to be shifting in favor of the eco-friendly.

The poll asked the participants to rate how embarrassing they would find a variety of activities, such as smoking, littering, driving a gas-guzzler, and more. The results showed a definite disdain for any environmentally-unfriendly activity:

  • Littering was considered to be less acceptable than cheating on taxes
  • Smoking cigarettes was considered “very embarrassing” to 36% of respondents
  • Driving a gas guzzler was considered “very embarrassing” to 26% of respondents
  • Not recycling plastic, using paper plates, and letting water run while brushing your teeth were considered “very embarrassing” to nearly 20% of respondents

That last figure is of particular importance, since 20% is considered to be the magic point at which an attitude or behavior becomes mainstream. According to the poll conductor, Suzanne Shelton: “once 20 percent of the population adopts a behavior, it has reached the tipping point and should grow steadily.”

Good news, to be sure – if these numbers reflect reality.

Do these numbers represent actual changing attitudes toward the green movement, or are they the result of people trying to make themselves look good? Time will tell. When asked how they could be incentivized to be more eco-friendly, most participants chose paying a fine and/or being given some sort of monetary reward – showing that most people are more concerned with green of a different sort.

What do you think of this poll? Have you noticed a change in attitude toward the green movement? Have you experienced any backlash for littering – or for trying to be eco-friendly?

[Source]

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3 Comments

  • Funny you should bring up the brushing of teeth - here's where you can really tell if you are wasting water. Until you are limited you just don't get it! Try brushing your teeth with just 1/2 cup of water! Pre-poured into a glass. We have a cottage and the well was not working properly, long story short we had very little water and wasting it was a problem it puts a perspective on how much you waste when you let the water run while brushing your teeth. Or how many times you flush the toilet in a day (I know this may sound gross but this too can be a big waste of water)!

  • Somewhere, at this very moment, Al Gore is doing a victory dance, laughing all the way to the bank.

  • "When asked how they could be incentivized to be more eco-friendly, most participants chose paying a fine and/or being given some sort of monetary reward – showing that most people are more concerned with green of a different sort."

    This is so very true! When I lived in an apartment complex that did not have a recycling bin there...i was less likely to recycle. I did recycle sometimes...but not as often as I should have.

    Now that I live in the city and all I have to do is put my recycling in a bin and wheel it to my driveway...I recycle a lot more! It's the convenience and incentive factor. Plus you can get points now for recycling in the city and if you get enough points, you can get a free meal at a restaurant.

    But we really should do what we believe is right, no matter the convenience or incentive.

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