Exclusive: Most Americans favor faster shipping over shopping sustainably

Americans are split—who’s surprised?—on whether it’s crucial for retailers to be sustainable, says a new Retail Brew/Harris Poll survey.

By GLENDA TOMA | Morning Brew | July 21, 2021

Retailers know that sustainability, at this point, is not a choice. Shoppers? Well, it’s less clear.

To find out more, we partnered with Harris Poll to run an exclusive, nationally representative survey of 2,000 adults earlier this month. One similarity: There’s a lot of talk…

You don’t know the half of it

Americans are split—who’s surprised?—on whether it’s crucial for retailers to be sustainable, meaning they consider the environmental and social impact of doing business. More than half (54%) of those surveyed said it’s important, while 46% said nope (and probably rolled their eyes).

  • Two-thirds of Millennials and Gen Zers fell into the first camp, compared to 55% of Gen Xers and 42% of Boomers.
  • Still, a majority across the board felt retailers need to make greener efforts. And 53% of those who don’t even think sustainability is essential would still buy a sustainable product if they saw one.

Among the roadblocks to buying green, the biggest is spending that green. Almost half (46%) said higher prices are the main reason why they’re opting out. Plus, only 30% of shoppers make the effort to seek out sustainable goods.

Word games: Seven in 10 of those surveyed said they’re more likely to buy a product if it’s marketed as sustainable. And some labels do make a difference.

  • “All natural” and “eco-friendly” hold the most sway, while only about a quarter paid “carbon neutral” any notice.

Most Americans (52%) pack reusable totes to shop sustainably, likely a resultof plastic bag bans. And as for secondhand, you’re not alone, Olivia Rodrigo. Across demographics, about a third of shoppers buy via resale.

But, but, but: Don’t let anything get in the way of two-day, one-day, or same-day shipping. More than half of respondents—56%—said faster delivery supersedes shopping sustainably. So the road to net-zero is a long one.

  • Last year, the US produced a record 407 billion square feet of corrugated materials as e-comm exploded.
  • Last-mile delivery emissions are predicted to jump by 30+% across 100 cities worldwide by 2030, per a 2020 World Economic Forum study.—GT

Read the full story at Morning Brew.