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Ignorance is not sustainable for many Americans

GS sustainability surveyNEW YORK: A new study suggests 40 percent of Americans are not well informed about how businesses can operate sustainably.

G&S Communications commissioned Harris Poll to conduct its latest 'Sense & Sustainability' survey in April and discovered that 39 percent of Americans question their practical understanding of science.

"Science forms the basis for credible sustainability communications, yet narratives that trigger an emotional connection are what can drive the public to take notice and take action," said Ron Loch, G&S senior vice president, sustainability consulting.

A growing number of Americans are also choosing to remain uninformed about the sustainability efforts of businesses: Some 25 percent admit they don't rely on any source to learn about efforts to promote corporate social and environmental responsibility - an increase from 20 percent in 2014.

In making decisions about which brands to support, 41 percent of Americans identify human rights and wildlife protection (33 percent) as "very influential" social and environmental issues compared to deforestation (25 percent), climate change (24 percent), fairtrade (21 percent) and carbon footprint (19 percent).

Among the industries measured by the study, Americans rank agriculture (47 percent), energy (40 percent) and food and beverage (36 percent) with the best reputations for sustainability.

By comparison, industry sectors that don't rate with the American public are transport - including vehicle manufacturers, airlines, rail, infrastructure and logistics - at 19 percent and manufacturing with 14 percent.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds of Americans say businesses can contribute to their sustainability reputations by conserving natural resources (72 percent) or supporting environmental or social causes (66 percent).

By contrast, only eight percent think having a celebrity spokesperson will improve a corporate reputation.

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