Caron Gremont
[email protected]


Americans Show Their Shades of Green
New national survey shows that concern for the environment
does not translate into knowledge or behavior

Washington, DC (October 9, 2006) – A new national survey shows that more than half of adult Americans consider themselves to be pretty “Green.” When asked to rate themselves on a 10-point scale where a “10” means they consider themselves to be extremely Green (taking steps in their daily lives to help the environment), 59 percent give themselves a score of six or higher. Almost nine in 10 also say it is “very” or “somewhat” important to them personally to be Green (89 percent).

Though most Americans consider themselves to be at least “somewhat” Green, the survey finds that their “E-IQ” (Environmental IQ) is relatively low -- there are large gaps between self-perception, knowledge and behavior.

The national E-IQ survey, conducted by market research firm ICR and sponsored by the Abundant Forests Alliance, measured environmental concern, knowledge and behavior among a nationally representative sample of 1,526 adult Americans. The environmental issues of highest concern among Americans, according to the survey, include air and water pollution, with concern also very high about global warming and the state of the forests in the United States.

Many misperceptions exist about the state of the forests, in particular. For example:

  • Approximately two in three (68 percent) adults say they are “very” or “somewhat” worried about the state of the forests in the United States, yet only 6 percent know that the amount of forestland in the United States is roughly the same today as it was 100 years ago.
  • More than one in three people (36 percent) think that areas of forestland where trees have been cut are at greater risk for forest fires, though actually areas of land that have been untouched are at a greater risk because they are not managed.
  • More than three in four Americans (76 percent) mistakenly believe that the government and forest industry own the greatest proportion of forests in the United States.

Managing America’s Forests
What drives these misperceptions is the lack of knowledge about how America’s forests are managed. About half of U.S. forestland is owned collectively by more than 10 million families and individuals throughout the country, who have the job of managing the nation’s forests through sustainable forestry practices. In fact, citizens own the largest single chunk of forests in the United States.

The survey also found that Green intentions do not necessarily translate into the most environmentally sound behavior. For example, of adult Americans:

  • Two in five (40 percent) say that they only sometimes, rarely or never separate out plastic, glass and paper from their trash for recycling at home.
  • More than four in five (85 percent) say that they only sometimes, rarely or never participate in community environmental events, such as tree plantings and neighborhood cleanup activities.
  • More than half (54 percent) say they always or most of the time ask for plastic rather than paper bags because of environmental reasons, even though paper is the natural, renewable, recyclable and biodegradable choice.

Know The Terms: Renewable and Sustainable
At the center of these misperceptions and knowledge/behavior gaps is the misunderstanding—and misuse—of terms like “renewable” and “sustainable.” Understanding the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources is critical to living a Green way of life. Renewable resources are things such as wood and paper that come from our forests, which grow naturally and can, in theory, be harvested sustainably at a constant rate without depleting the existing resource pool, whereas nonrenewable resources are things such as fossil fuels or natural gas that cannot be renewed. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability is the ability to achieve continuing economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet and providing a high quality of life. Forests are one of the nation’s greatest sustainable resources.

Plant It Forward™
There are things that everyone can do to show their commitment to the environment. Recently, Joan Lunden, former co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America and mother of seven, showed her commitment to environmental awareness by taking a portion of the national environmental survey online and helping get the word out to others about the importance of the environment.

“It’s our responsibility as parents, to make sure that we leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren,” says Lunden. “To do that, we have to understand myth from fact, make informed choices, and make the most of natural, renewable resources such as wood and paper.”

To find out how much you know about environmental issues, such as America’s forests, and ways you can Plant It ForwardTM to make the environment better, visit

About the Abundant Forests Alliance
Members of the wood and paper products industry in the United States have formed the Abundant Forests Alliance. We share information with consumers and customers about the many ways our industry is helping to ensure that with proper care and management there will always be abundant forests. We also listen and respond to environmental concerns about our forests and products. Through sustainable forestry practices, improved recycling and new technologies, our industry is helping to maintain the delicate balance between supplying the wood and paper products people need and giving the forest what it needs to flourish. By working together to renew, reuse and respect our forest resources, we can balance the needs of people with the needs of nature so forests can remain abundant.

Our members include: Anthony Forest Products Company | Green Diamond Resource Company | International Paper | MeadWestvaco | Monadnock Paper Mills | Plum Creek Timber Company | Temple-Inland | The Westervelt Company | Weyerhaeuser

About the Survey
The survey was conducted by market research firm ICR. Telephone interviews were conducted from September 6-14, 2006 among 1,526 adults 18 years of age and older. A random-digit-dial sampling methodology was implemented for this study. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.5 percent. For further information about the survey, please visit