NEW YORK — Americans are trading city life for the countryside. A new survey of 2,000 adults – with half living in urban or suburban areas and the rest in rural communities – finds that one in five people (18%) who currently live in a rural setting relocated from a city or suburb since the pandemic started.
The poll also asked people how they viewed their environmental habits throughout the pandemic. Results show that two-thirds of all respondents have made an effort to live more sustainably (67%).
Urban and suburban residents are more interested in learning about obtaining a sustainable lifestyle than their rural counterparts (77% vs. 57%). Some people have taken measures to be more sustainable by reducing food waste (49%), using reusable household materials (47%), or paper alternatives instead of plastic (46%).
Interestingly, eight in 10 believe having a “green thumb” is a necessary survival skill (79%). That may be why 42 percent of Americans began growing their own produce and 31 percent are interested in raising livestock.
Take me home, country roads
Commissioned by Tractor Supply Co. in partnership with OnePoll for Earth Day, the survey also reveals that 69 percent of urban and suburban respondents would prefer to live in a rural area because it’s more peaceful (61%), less stressful (49%), or because the cost of living is lower (45%).
Regardless of whether they’ve made a drastic move, 52 percent say that they’ve started their own sustainable hobbies. However, others find it difficult because of costs (40%) or it’s just too much work (38%). Many others say they simply didn’t know where to begin (38%).
More than half the poll (54%) thinks it’s expensive to live sustainably, with the average person estimating the lifestyle costs $11,000 more a year. Seven in 10 Americans also believe that having a large yard is mandatory to live sustainably (71%) and most wish their home’s green space was bigger (74%).
“You don’t have to have a lot of money to live sustainably. Imagine keeping chickens in your backyard or growing herbs right on your countertop! It’s okay to start small – simple changes can make a big impact,” says Christi Korzekwa, chief marketing officer at Tractor Supply, in a statement.
“Choosing to live a sustainable lifestyle is all about raising, recycling and repurposing. By choosing to live more sustainably, you can find creative ways to become more efficient, eliminate waste or reduce your impact on the environment, all while having fun raising chicks or growing tomatoes right in your backyard.”
Most Americans want to live off the land
While the grass may seem greener where there’s more of it, 65 percent of respondents who live in rural neighborhoods also long for larger yards. Nearly half of respondents would be interested in starting their own hobby farm if they had the time, space, and resources (48%).
Two in three add they wouldn’t have any problem growing their own produce if all the grocery stores shut down (68%), with those in urban/suburban areas feeling more confident than rural dwellers (72% vs. 62%).
Most respondents even claim they could “live off the land” if they had to (62%), and a third of them believe they could last for more than a year.
This drastic change may even come sooner than later, as 53 percent see themselves living a more sustainable lifestyle within the next decade. Overall, 77 percent believe in making sustainable choices for themselves and creating a better environment for the next generation.
“Our study shows that people have made an effort to live more sustainably over the last two years, and we can see this trend will be here to stay,” says Seth Estep, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Tractor Supply. “Making positive changes means that we are helping our planet, which is important for our children and future generations so that they will have the same opportunities that we enjoy today. It’s never too late to live more sustainably.”