New study finds US consumers are more concerned about ocean plastic than climate change

The recent bans on single-use plastic are starting to break through to consumers. While the intangible nature of climate change is still difficult to understand, a new study from the Shelton Group finds. 

The United Nations recently announced we have only 11 years to prevent the irreversible damage from climate change. However, consumers still struggle to move towards climate action. Ocean plastic, on the other hand, is cutting through. 

The study by The Shelton Group, attendees were shown a list of 10 different environmental issues, 65% of Americans expressed feeling very concerned or extremely concerned about plastics in the ocean, compared to 58% who felt very or extremely concerned about climate change.

80% of the consumers said if given the option, they would rather not use single-use plastic. The study showed most of these people received ‘some’ to ‘a lot’ of information about single-use plastic bans and ocean plastic via social media, television, the news and friends. 

The data suggests because plastic is a more tangible problem, more concern can be given. Seeing wildlife trapped in plastic and using plastic in everyday life is better understood over rising sea levels and CO2 emissions. Climate change is highly dangerous but unlike plastic, it is hard to touch and feel. 

“This is a moment of tremendous market opportunity – or significant challenge – for a variety of organizations in the consumer packaged goods, packaging, retailing and food service industries,” said Suzanne Shelton, CEO of Shelton Group. “It will be increasingly hard for Americans to believe a company cares about sustainability, which is now a driver of brand preference and purchase decisions, when a company continues a ‘business as usual’ approach to single-use plastics. It’s time for everyone in these value chains to get creative and figure out circular, reusable models, as well as material alternatives.”

Making climate change tangible is extremely important if we are to stop the irreversible pending damages. Worldwide students have been striking for the climate and demanding action. The older generation sees harming their children as a more tangible effect of climate change, over temperature changes. Such demonstrations show how important it is to make these issues personal and tangible to consumers. 

See the survey results here.