Washington — Sometimes it’s easier to think green than be green.
A survey released Tuesday suggests people have largely embraced recycling bottles and cans, and are inclined to turn down thermostats to save energy. But it also indicated that some paths toward a greener Earth aren’t as easily taken — or turned into action.
The telephone poll, conducted for The Associated Press and NBC Universal, tries to gauge attitudes about the environment. It found that 60 percent of those surveyed felt either a “great deal” or “a lot” of personal responsibility to protect the environment, while 37 percent rarely, if ever, even thought about the impact of their actions on the Earth’s health.
Nearly eight of 10 people, who were concerned about environmental protection, said they believe their actions are helping to protect the environment.
The survey found that nearly seven in 10 people believe recycling bottles and cans would help the environment a lot. The same number said that about adding energy-saving insulation to their homes.
A little more than six of 10 said that buying energy-efficient appliances, using recycled paper products and car pooling help a lot. A little more than half said it would make a lot of difference to turn down the thermostat, reuse water bottles and take your own reusable bag when grocery shopping.
While many of the respondents — a cross section of adults from across the country — said these actions would help the environment “a great deal,” or at least “a lot,” when asked about some specific actions, the gap widened between what they believe to be important and what they, themselves, have any intention of doing.
In some cases, the inability to turn their green priorities into action reflected geography or economics.
Take the matter of car pooling, or using mass transit. More than six in 10 people said they thought it would help the environment. Yet only three in 10 said they were very likely to do it, and four in 10 said they were not at all likely to car pool or take mass transit.
A third of those surveyed lived in rural areas where mass transit was generally not readily available and where car pooling would be less likely.
Yet, only 44 percent of urbanites and 32 percent of people living in the suburbs also said they were very likely to use mass transit or car pool.
The poll suggested in a number of other areas people were very likely to act to help the environment:
• 72 percent were very likely to recycle cans and bottles;
• 63 percent were very likely to turn down thermostats;
• 62 percent were very likely to buy energy-efficient appliances;
• 59 percent were very likely to use cold water for clothes washing;
• 59 percent were very likely to buy recycled paper products.
More than half said it would help the environment if people brought their own shopping bags to stores, and 46 percent said they were very likely to do so, while 25 percent ruled it out.