Consumers in the U.S. who Care About Sustainability: Demographics

More and more consumers are embracing social causes and selecting brands and products that align well with their values. The average consumer in the U.S. who cares about sustainability practices is likely to be Millennial, educated, have a higher income level, female, and have children.


  • A study by LIM college found that almost 90% of its respondents agree that, “Millennials and Gen Z will help create more sustainably-produced products by convincing businesses and governments to alter existing practices.”
  • A recent Gallup Poll found that 49% of those aged between 30 to 49 and 67% of those aged between 18 to 29 say that global warming is a man-made, real, and serious threat.
  • And when it comes to sustainable food purchasing, Nielsen found that there is a generation gap. About 75% of Millennials are altering their buying habits with the environment in mind, compared to 34% of Baby Boomers. Millennials are also more willing to fork out more for “products that contain environmentally friendly or sustainable ingredients (90% vs. 61%), organic or natural ingredients (86% vs. 59%), or products that have social responsibility claims (80% vs. 48%).


  • It has been observed that consumers with “higher education levels tend to be more environmentally friendly. An analysis of questions on a survey supports the hypothesis that “education causes individuals to be more concerned with social welfare and to accordingly behave in a more environmentally friendly manner.”


  • Many low-income Americans may be inclined to follow sustainability practices, but they “may hit financial barriers in the journey to become more environmentally conscious.” Studies found that non-organic dish soap was priced at $5, with a similar organic version double the cost. The gap in price, where organic items are often more expensive than their non-organic counterparts may prove a major challenge for “financially struggling consumers who want to be environmentally friendly.”
  • In 2018, Seattle had made headlines when it became the first city in the United States to ban the use of plastic utensils and straws; this has prompted companies to shift towards more eco-friendly, compostable items. Research done by the University of Washington students for Seattle Public Utilities found that compliance to this new law may be “more grounded on the wealth of the business rather than the owner’s stance on climate control.” For example, in District 1, compliance was at 60%, while District 2 and 3 had a mere 40% compliance. District 1 to 3 have some of Seattle’s “least wealthy neighborhoods, such as South Park, the International District, and Pike/Pine.” In comparison, District 7 which boasts a 90% compliance to the new law, “contains more wealthy areas such as Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and Magnolia.”

Ownership Of Children

  • According to research, the younger generation is the catalyst driving the change for “eco-households.” Results found that 76% of parents feel like their child is actually the one advocating for environmentally-friendly changes in their home.” The survey of 2,000 Americans found that for a significant number of Americans, “having children is a catalyst for wanting to become more green.”
  • Fifty-nine percent of Americans say that they want to be more environmentally friendly “simply because they want the world to be a better place.”
  • The hypothesis that the presence of children impacts sustainability practices can be found in this research study. The study concluded that “people with children in their households were more likely to exhibit environmentally friendly behaviors.” It is to be noted, however, that this resource, while conclusive, is an older resource.


  • According to Scientific American’s research, compared to men, women care more about adopting sustainability practices, with women recycling more, littering less, and leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
  • The more eco-friendly lifestyle adopted by women may be due to personality differences, “such as women’s prioritization of altruism,” according to researchers. Another reason why men are more likely to shun eco-friendly behaviors is “because of what it conveys about their masculinity.”

Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.

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