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Abstract

Americans today wear a thin, green cloak of environmentalism, evidenced by our recycling efforts, energy conservation attempts, and sporadic forays into “green consumerism.” We spend time carefully sorting our discarded paper, plastic, and glass, turn off the lights whenever we leave rooms, and make product choices based on a company’s environmental reputation, or a product’s purported “sustainability” or “eco-friendliness.” Professor Magali Delmas of the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability has been studying the motivations behind these environmentally beneficial, “green” behaviors over the last decade and has found that considerations of health, higher product quality, functionality, convenience, and status weigh more heavily in consumers’ decision-making than concern for the environment (Hewitt 2015). The revelation that environmentally supportive behaviors are easily attributable to other motivating factors is not, however, proof that American environmental public opinion lacks depth and strength of conviction. For that, one only needs to examine the polling data.

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