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How Much Do U.S. Consumers Care About Sustainability?

Americans can be stereotyped internationally as being highly consumeristic and little environmentally-focused.

Classified by GEDI as the number one country for entrepreneurship, it can be easy to think that consumers residing in a country bustling with innovation constantly want the the newest and next best thing, no matter the cost. But is this really true?

Here, we'll discuss the current sustainability situation in the United States and what you and your business can do as a result.

General Stance on Sustainability

The data overwhelmingly suggests that American consumers support companies who market themselves as sustainable.

According to a study done by Yale, 7 out of 10 adults in the U.S. are "very" or "extremely" certain that global warming exists. You might be thinking: That doesn't tell me much. However, the data further shows that 77% of these adults demonstrate a preference for products from a company who makes fighting climate change a priority.

What's more, another 77% of Americans are of the opinion that a greater focus should be placed on the use of renewable energy.

In regards to sustainability, the United States often gets compared to European countries. So, how does the sustainability stance in the United States compare to that of European consumers?

When asked "what the most pressing problem" in regards to the environment is, 34% of Americans responded with climate change, 29% stated plastic waste, and 14% claimed air pollution. European consumers posed with the same question responded 33%, 34%, and 14%, respectively.

It seems there is actually little difference in perspectives.

Generational Differences

You may be happy and unsurprised to learn that the younger U.S. consumers are much more engaged with the sustainability movement. This generation also tends to express their stance with their wallets.

Generation Z and millennial consumers lead in more environmentally-friendly purchasing habits - 62% indicate a preference for sustainable brands, while 54% of Generation X do and 44% and 39% of the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers, respectively.

The youngest generation of consumers are also the most willing to pay a premium for green products, leading with 77%; an additional 54% of millennials do the same. However, don't discount the older generations of consumers because they are also willing to pay a premium - data shows roughly 50% would dish out more cash for sustainable goods.

It appears that there is already a strong base of eco-minded consumers and an indication that the pool of sustainably motivated American customers will surge in the future.

What does this mean for your business?

Considering that roughly 50% of U.S. consumers would change their purchasing behavior to conform to sustainability standards, I'd say this is an opportunity you might not want to pass up.

"[...] U.S. consumers continue to choose sustainable products over conventional options, making sustainability a consistent growth opportunity for manufacturers[.]"

In fact, the priority previously placed on convenience has now been replaced by a desire to be sustainable.

Research also indicates that ecologically-minded shoppers in the United States also tend to be more digitally engaged - 67% more to be exact, according to a Nielson survey.

So, what can you take away from this?

It's time to jump on board the sustainability train in the U.S. market because it is clear that there is a demand.


The data overwhelmingly states that U.S. consumers are ready and willing to purchase sustainably marketed products. What's more, almost 50% of individuals would change their shopping behavior to support this cause.

Generation Z and Y consumers lead in sustainable engagement, often using their purchasing power to promote causes they care about. The majority prefer buying from sustainable brands.

In short, the sustainability market in the United States is an opportunity for growth, both for your consumers and your company.

What is your experience with the U.S. market? How does this data compare with your preconceived notions about the American consumer?