The recession has prompted consumers around the world to re-evaluate what's important to them. Issues such as the economy, job security and other topics related to finances are top of mind for most people and, as a result, issues such as the environment have fallen. In fact, the latest edition of Nielsen's Global Online Survey covering more than 50 countries found that global warming dropped to 14th place on the list of "biggest and second biggest concerns." That said, the issue remains important to citizens in many countries. More than half of respondents felt that their lives would be negatively impacted by climate change over the next decade.
But the environment is emerging as an inadvertent winner in the global economic downturn. Lower new car sales translate into fewer cars on the road and lower exhaust emissions. "Cash for Clunkers" programs like those started in some European countries and more recently in the U.S. mean that older, less fuel efficient vehicles are being replaced with new models. Families have rediscovered cooking at home, and are re-purposing leftovers as opposed to just tossing them out (in flusher times, households tended to waste up to 30 percent of food).
Despite having more pressing issues on their mind, consumers want retailers and manufacturers to step up and do what they can to make products more environmentally friendly, whether that means increased energy efficiency, ethically raised crops and animals or less packaging.