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AARP Bulletin Survey on Environmental Issues: Executive Summary

This and Related Reports

A nationwide survey commissioned by the AARP Bulletin asked adults age 18 and older which ecologically sound practices they engaged in and whether they felt their actions could lessen the negative impact on the environment. This executive summary, by Gerard Rainville, reports that an overall majority of respondents believe they can make a difference in terms of protecting the environment. However, fewer of those over 50 feel this way compared with those under 50. Though those over 50 may appear to be less optimistic about protecting the environment, their practices (with a few exceptions) are as ecologically conscious as those under 50.

Survey findings include:

  • 59% of respondents think they can personally make a difference in terms of protecting the environment. This includes 64% of those aged 18-49 but only half of those over 50.
  • 6% of respondents feel that their actions would make no difference at all in terms of protecting the environment. This includes 9% of those age 50 or more and 4% of those under 50.
  • 82% of respondents report that they recycle.
  • Fewer respondents over 50 report using public transportation or walking/taking a bike instead of driving than those between 18 and 49. Beyond this exception, respondents in both age groups are equally likely to recycle, drive a hybrid car, and take other actions to reduce their impact on the environment.
  • Fewer respondents over 50 report owning an energy-efficient appliance or using energy-efficient light bulbs than those between 18 and 49. Beyond this exception, respondents in both age groups are equally likely to regulate their heating and cooling and water use and take other actions to conserve energy.


This study was conducted for AARP via telephone by International Communications Research, an independent research company. Interviews were conducted from March 26 to April 6, 2008 among a nationally representative sample of 1,200 respondents age 18 and older. For additional information contact Gerard Rainville at 202-434-6295. (2 pages)

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