Surveying Sustainability

In this age of proliferating CSR information, it seems a week doesn't go by without a new "green" survey. Whether the poll focuses on green technology or attitudes toward the environment, there is bound to be a survey on it. The year is only three weeks old and yet five surveys on business sustainability have been released.

One survey by the Allianz Global Investor released the following findings: 71% of investors classify environmental technology companies a "buy" while 49% intend to invest in a green company or fund over the next year and 17% have already done so.

An EcoPinion survey, sponsored by EcoAlign, was on customer perceptions of green technology. The findings were thus: 46% of interviewees have adopted some form of green tech, while those who haven't, seem to harbor negative attitudes about it. Similarly, a survey conducted by Insight Research Group in tandem with Home & Garden Television and the Natural Resources Defense Council, found that 84% of people polled believe they have a "moral obligation" to care for the environment. The same survey also revealed that there was some fear of being linked to extremist political or environmental stances as the chief obstacle to increased green activity.

"Can market research be accused of greenwash?" asks founder Joel Makower in the wake of all these green surveys. Maybe not but logic dictates that actual consumer behavior may not be in synch with consumer perceptions. However, the rise in positive green surveys seem to be accompanied by a recent resurgence of watchdogging for corporate greenwashing as illustrated in the Greenwashing Index and the Six Sins of Greenwashing report, according to Makower.