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2022 State of Sustainability in America, 20th Annual Consumer Insights & Trends Report

  • Report
  • 140 Pages
  • January 2022
  • Region: Global
  • Natural Marketing Institute
  • ID: 5615350
While personal health is still an utmost concern among most consumers, many are realizing they need to pay more attention to the health of the earth as issues such as global warming, plastic pollution, and diminished biodiversity are threatening the existence of both person and planet.

In other words, the bar has been raised from minimizing one’s impact and introspection to actually making a positive impact on fixing environmental and social ills. Companies and corporations will need to continually reexamine their processes and offerings to have a positive impact on the environment and society to align with this growing consumer attitude. 

This research shows that while consumers may exhibit some anxiety about global and national issues, they realize that sustainability is not something that can be pushed aside or put on hold. In other words, since much of their anxiety may be driven by a sense of helplessness, being sustainable and taking part in green behaviors helps them feel a sense of control and purpose for the greater good. Even further, they expect other entities such as governments and companies to step up and ensure the progress that has been made in sustainable initiatives will continue, even during trying times, in order to protect the very existence of the planet and its inhabitants. And the need for action has been accelerated.

  • Resource depletion is driving the need for more sustainable practices by all, as depletion of resources resides high on the list of consumers’ concerns
  • Three (3) out of 5 consumers in the total population and over 4 out of 5 LOHAS consumers feel that the depletion and overuse of the planet’s natural resources will destroy life on the planet
  • One of the lessons coming out of the pandemic is how planetary health improves from lowered human activity and thus, lowered human impact on the environment; how might this learning be applied to how companies talk about how they source, manufacture, package and sell their products

Introduction: 20 Years of Sustainability Marketplace Insights 

The 2022 State of Sustainability in America Consumer Trends and Insights Report measures and describes the marketplace for sustainable products and services, the consumers who use them, consumers’ expectations of corporate behavior, and attitudes toward environmental and social issues. In addition, it uncovers consumer motivations and the challenges they encounter in their pursuit to become increasingly aligned with a more sustainable lifestyle.

While some challenges may exist regarding the relevance of sustainability in a world which appears to have been turned on its end, many of the latest findings provide evidence that sustainable ideals and attitudes have taken on a higher level of acceleration and importance in consumers’ mindset. 

In addition, there appears to be evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic may have ignited a stronger conviction towards environmental protection and sustainable behaviors as the fragility and interconnectedness of the human and planetary condition has been made more apparent than ever.

In fact, our findings reveal consumers are clearly showing more sophistication within the realm of sustainability - with greater understanding of its breadth, depth, and implications, and they pick the elements that mean the most to them. In this year’s research we are finding a heightened awareness and concern over the health of the planet which appears to be causing shifts in consumer behaviors. Instead of adopting environmentally-friendly behaviors for more self-directed and personal benefits, consumers are looking outward to the environment around them and realizing they have to take a bigger part in fixing the ills that are disrupting planetary health.

Table of Contents

1. U.S. Sustainability Consumer Trends Database Overview
  • Other Databases Used in Report
  • Summary Overview
  • The Institute's Sustainability Segmentation
  • Sustainability Segmentation Model Methodology
  • Levels of Environmental and Sustainable Engagement
  • Segmentation Overview
  • LOHAS Consumer as Environmental Steward
  • LOHAS Mainstreaming Attitudes
  • Dual Positioning of Personal and Planetary Health
  • LOHAS Aspirational Attitudes
  • Importance of Company's Mindfulness
  • Leaders and Followers Profile
  • Differences across Leaders and Followers
  • Changing Segment Composition
  • The LOHAS Consumer Profile
  • The NATURALITES Consumer Profile
  • The DRIFTERS Consumer Profile
  • The CONVENTIONALS Consumer Profile
  • The UNCONCERNEDS Consumer Profile
  • Demographic Summary Across Segments
2. Trends in Consumer Engagement in Environment and Social Sustainability
  • Personal Responsibility for the Environment
  • Effect of COVID-19 on Sustainability Orientation
  • Level of Living ""Green""
  • Willingness to Sacrifice for Environment
  • Lessening Personal Impact
  • Participation in Sustainable Behaviors
  • Growth in Participation in Sustainable Behaviors
  • Dual Benefits of Sustainable Behaviors
  • ""Loftier"" Benefits of Sustainable Behaviors
  • Participation in Sustainable Behaviors to Assimilate
  • Consternation Regarding Environmental Involvement
  • Concerns Regarding Environmental Issues
  • Concerns Regarding Social Issues
  • Concerns Regarding Food Waste
  • Concerns Regarding Hunger and Undernourishment
  • Concerns Regarding Race and Immigration Policies Concerns Regarding Fair Labor and Workers' Rights
  • Consumers' Willingness to Provide Assistance to Others
  • Donating Behavior
  • Desire to Create Change for the Better
3. Consumer Outlook on the Status of Planetary Health
  • Resource Depletion Concerns
  • Concern Over Lack of Biodiversity
  • Interest in Company Practices Regarding Biodiversity
  • Global Warming Concerns
  • Interest in Company Practices Regarding Global Warming
  • Positive Outcomes During Lockdown
  • Connection of Toxins in Soils and Increased Disease Rates
  • Concern for Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture
  • Connection of Planetary and Personal Health
  • Concern Regarding Plastic in Oceans and Environment
4. Waste, Recycling and the Plastic Problem
  • Living in a Wasteful Society
  • Preference for Products Manufactured in a Sustainable Manner
  • Impact of a Circular Economy
  • Increased Wastefulness Due to COVID-19 Impact
  • Impact of Overpackaging
  • Preference for Glass, Cans and Cardboard over Plastic
  • Likelihood to Shop Stores Which Reduce Plastic
  • Preference for Refillable Economy
  • Positive and Negative Attitudes Regarding Refillable Economy
  • Recycling Frequency of Specific Materials
  • Growth in Recycling Across Specific Materials
  • Skepticism Regarding Curbside Recycling
5. Impact of Sustainability on Product Purchase
  • E-Friendly and Sustainable Positioning as Drivers of Product Purchase
  • Stage to Reduce Environmental Impact
  • Concern Regarding Chemicals in Household Products
  • Frequency of Harmful Chemical Monitoring
  • Interest in Natural and E-Friendly Versions of Categories
  • Use of Conventional, Natural, Organic Versions of Categories
  • Use of Conventional, Natural, Organic Versions of Personal Care
  • Household Penetration of Natural and Organic Personal Care
  • Importance of Personal Care Attributes and Growth
  • Use of Conventional, Natural, Organic Versions of HH Cleaning Across Generations Household Penetration of Natural and Organic Household Cleaning
  • Importance of Household Cleaning Attributes and Growth
  • Barriers to Purchase of Natural or Green Household Products
  • Use of Natural and Organic Foods/Beverages
  • Use of Dairy Milk and Organic Dairy Milk and Growth in Usage
  • Importance of Food/Beverage Attributes and Growth
  • Use of Plant-Based Food/Beverages
  • Purchase of Plant-Based Household Cleaning and Personal Care Products
  • Barriers to Purchase of Environmentally-Friendly Products and Services
  • Impact of Price on Product Purchase
6. Beyond Products-What Does CSR Mean to Consumers
  • Importance of Company's Environmental Mindfulness
  • Increased Commitment to Companies with E-Friendly and Sustainable Initiatives
  • Perceived Leader in Environmental Protection and Who Should Be Doing More
  • Retailers and Corporate Need to Do More to Protect the Environment
  • Interest in Companies' Environmental Initiatives
  • Concern for Socially Responsible Business
  • Interest in Companies' Social Initiatives
  • Interest in Companies' Social Initiatives by Ethnicity
  • Racial Equality and Social Justice Trends
  • Impact of Company's Cause Support
  • Alignment of Personal Values with Product Purchase
  • Impact of Local Support vs. Global Support
  • Greenwashing Skepticism Prompts Searching Behavior Actions Taken to Determine Company Initiatives
  • Impact of a Company's Mindfulness on Trial, Loyalty
  • Boycotting Behavior
7. Sources of Influence and Points of Connection
  • Sources of Influence Prompting Purchase of More Sustainable Products
  • Social Media Influence across Healthy & Natural, Supplements and Sustainable Products
  • Impact of a Seal or Certification Mark on Purchase
  • Recognition and Understanding of Certifications
  • Impact of Certifications on Likelihood to Purchase
  • Seal and Certification Confusion
  • Understanding of USDA Organic Certification vs. Regenerative Organic Certification
  • Trustworthiness of Certifications
  • Influencing Others Regarding Environmentally-Friendly Purchase
  • Early Adoption of Environmentally-Friendly Products
  • Desire for More Information about Environmental Protection
  • Shopping Patterns
  • Shopping Patterns
  • Channel Shopping Across Generations
  • Online Grocery Shopping
  • Online Research and Mobile Device Grocery Shopping
  • Growth in Channel Shopping Across Generations
  • Sustainable Initiatives Which Prompt Increased Store Shopping
  • Sustainable Initiatives Which Prompt Increased Store Shopping Across Retail Shoppers
  • Importance of Clean, Pure Product Merchandising
  • Category Shopping Across Retailers

Companies Mentioned

  • Giving Tuesday
  • Aveeno
  • Green Mountain
  • Method
  • Pepsi
  • The Honest Co.
  • Walmart Shoppers
  • Target (in store/online)
  • Amazon
  • Home Depot
  • Dollar General
  • Costco
  • Kroger
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • How to Recycle
  • Non-GMO Project
  • Fair Trade Certified
  • UL Environment
  • EPA Safer Choice
  • USDA Certified Biobased Product
  • Rainforest Alliance Certified
  • Fair Trade Labeling Organization
  • USP Verified
  • Regenerative Organic Certification
  • Fair for life
  • NSF International