Yale and George Mason universities surveyed 1,001 Americans over the holidays at the end of 2009 and concluded that, when it comes to conserving resources, there is a gap between what they want to do and what they actually do.

For instance, 88 percent said it is important to recycle. That is, to place bottles, cans, newspapers, and other recyclables, in separate containers at home to keep materials out of landfills or incinerators. But only 51 percent of those surveyed said that they do this at least “often.”

Meanwhile, 72 percent told the surveyers they believe public transportation or carpooling saves energy. Only 10 percent of them said they do it at least often.

Uh-oh, we’re human. And being green isn’t a fun hobby. Stephanie Simon reported in The Wall Street Journal on February 13 that in the very-green Boulder, Colorado, known for its many bicycle commuters, an attempt to cut gasoline and electricity use has so far met with some brick walls. From 2006 to 2008, carbon emissions went down only 1 percent despite a push to cut far more. “Boulder has found that financial incentives and an intense publicity campaign aren’t enough to spur most homeowners to action,” Simon wrote, “even in a city so environmentally conscious that the college football stadium won’t sell potato chips because the packaging isn’t recyclable.”

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