What Amazon Buying Habits Says About Convincing People To Conserve

A look at who is buying environmentally friendly products and books gives a glimpse at America’s priorities.


People from San Francisco buy a lot of books and products about gardening, conserving water, and saving energy. This is the what we can learn from these maps that Amazon made from the purchasing habits of people across the country. In fact, when all all of Amazon’s environmentally friendly products are mapped by where people purchase them, you get a pretty predictable view of the country


The most popular areas are the Northeast, the West Coast, and Colorado. That’s about exactly what you would expect if asked to create a map of the places in the country where people care most about these issues. It also shows just how politicized an issue this has become. While, ostensibly, wanting to save water and energy should be an issue for anyone who also wants to save money, the below average states correlate pretty strongly to conservative states. Most purple states are in the average category. (One caveat, this may also be a good map simply of where people use Amazon most).

But, there’s a catch! When you drill down to some specific issues, you see some encouraging trends. For instance, there just isn’t much water in the southwest right now, and its only going to get worse. And while they may have not bought into the “Green Toy and Baby” category, people in those areas are responding:



Look at that: If you take people’s water away, they start caring about water. It’s a good lesson for marketers and politicians trying to make behavioral change palatable to the average American. Once it starts affecting them, they’ll start caring. You have to hit people where they live. Sadly, this isn’t quite the case when it comes to energy:


Electricity costs are actually highest in New England, so you would hope to see the greatest levels of energy purchases there. Even though Florida has relatively low-cost power, they’re some of the most energy-conscious consumers on Amazon. One theory: Unlike in New England, solar panels would be quite effective in Florida. If these maps are made by total cost, instead of volume, a solar panel is going to drive up an area’s score much more than a LED light bulb. And, indeed–circumstantial evidence warning)–Florida is one of the states with the most solar installs in the country. Sadly, regardless of Florida’s progress, it seems that energy is still cheap and plentiful enough that conserving it hasn’t reached critical level–like it has for water in the Southwest. But we’ll get there. Don’t worry.

Read More: Most Innovative Companies: Amazon

[Hat tip: SmartPlanet ; Front page image from Flickr user Cipherwa]

About the author

Morgan is a senior editor at Fast Company. He edits the Ideas section, formerly