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Barely green: 9 percent of Republicans are 'environmentalists'

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Americans love Mother Nature, and they’re willing to go through certain “green” behaviors if it genuinely helps preserve the great outdoors. But the public is also attuned to marketing chicanery.

Eight out of 10 Americans - including 72 percent of Republicans - are not adverse to using feel-good “green” products for house and home. But a mere 30 percent would pay extra for such things. Meanwhile, six-out-of-10 people say the fancy “organic” label on food is simply an excuse to charge more.

“While Americans feel better about the economy, many are wary of the ‘greenwashing’ concept that gives companies a chance to cash in on consumers who want to help the planet but are confused by all the eco-friendly jargon,” says Mike de Vere, president of the Harris Poll, which has plumbed the enviromental consciousness of the nation in a new survey.

Certain myths persist as the annual rites of Earth Day approach on April 22. While recent research shows that organic produce and meat typically aren’t any better for the body than conventional varieties when it comes to vitamin and nutrient content, more than half of Americans (55 percent) believe that organic foods are somehow healthier than non-organic. Another 41 percent think organic food tastes better and/or fresher than non-organic.

Are we enviromentalists? Americans are surprisingly picky about assigning the label to themselves. Only 18 percent describe themselves as an environmentalist; 9 percent of Republicans and 23 percent of Democrats agree.

A few numbers from the Harris Poll of 2,276 U.S. adults, conducted March 13-18 and released Monday:

80 percent of Americans seek out green products; 72 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats agree.

60 percent overall prefer environmentally friendly cleaning supplies: 49 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of Democrats feel the same.

59 percent overall think organic food labeling is just an excuse to charge more; 65 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of Democrats agree.

30 percent overall are willing to pay extra for green products; 20 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats feel the same.

23 percent overall say they are a conservationists; 17 percent of Republicans and 26 percent of Democrats say the same.

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