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Rising Costs and Declining Quality Hinder Use of Reusable Products, New Study Shows

Nearly 70% of people are willing to purchase reusable products, but nearly the same number say high prices have kept them from doing so, according to a new survey from ALPLA.

Photo by: Gabrielle Ribeiro on Unsplash

Who’d have expected that a water bottle would become a symbol of status? But that’s where we are. Headlines about brand-exclusive partnerships with Stanley and backorders of their popular tumbler prove it. Honestly, though, we’ve been here for a while. Before the Stanley, there was the S’Well bottle. And the Corkcicle. And the Yeti. And, well before all of those, anyone who was anyone was carrying a Tervis Tumbler.

Even if the people buying these bottles, cups, and mugs aren’t doing it for environmental reasons, they have helped push forward a broader conversation about reusability—one that now includes things like the use of metal straws, mandates that outlaw the use of plastic shopping bags, and upcycling life hacks. But it’s one thing to talk about reusability and another thing to practice it. To find out how many people were actually turning their talk into action, we used the third-party survey platform Pollfish to ask 600 Americans over 18-years-old their thoughts on reusability and, if they aren’t incorporating reusable goods into their lifestyles, what’s keeping them from doing so. 

Key Findings

  • 69% of Americans are willing to buy reusable products.
  • 66% say they’ve chosen not to buy reusable products because they were too expensive.
  • 68% say their use of reusable goods would increase if cost weren’t a factor, 36% say it would significantly increase.
  • Cost and durability of reusable products are the biggest barriers to purchase.
  • Nearly 2.5X more people said store incentives are more effective than state mandates when it comes to encouraging use of reusable shopping bags.

What we found is that more than half of us are already using reusable products on a regular basis. Most of us are even willing to shop with retailers that prioritize reusable packaging.



Most of us say we’re willing to spend money on reusable products, but our biggest hangup to not buying and using more of them, maybe ironically, is cost. Even though many of us are willing to pay the steep price tag for the popular reusable water cups, we also say that cost has often been the thing that’s kept us from buying more reusable items—implying that our buying these cups isn’t environmentally motivated. We even say that if cost was no barrier, we’d significantly increase our use of reusable products.




Maybe, though, it’s not necessarily about cost but more about value. On the list of complaints about reusable goods, durability was second only to cost. So, people may say cost is their biggest barrier but it's not always about dollars. It’s about whether they feel like those dollars are well spent. 


“What we are seeing through our two most recent surveys is that Americans are increasingly embracing small things that can make a big difference when it comes to being better stewards of our environment,” says Billy Rice, Sustainability Manager with ALPLA. “Most of us are prioritizing sustainable packaging. We are comfortable using reusable goods, even prioritizing them in some cases. That means the hard work in impacting attitudes is paying off. What’s left is providing reusable goods at an affordable price while also ensuring high-quality.”

Nearly 2.5X more people said store incentives are more effective than state mandates when it comes to encouraging use of reusable shopping bags.

Reusable shopping bags may be the most commonly used reusable item, even more popular than the cups. That’s because many states and municipalities have codified their use by passing laws that either make them illegal or incentivize shoppers for choosing to use them. 

While no one seems to feel strongly or negatively about these laws at this point, most do say they’d prefer that if they were going to be incentivized to use reusable shopping bags, those motivations would come from the stores.



Americans are continuing to go greener. Our surveys are proving it. We are making sustainable packaging a priority. We want to incorporate more reusable products into our lives. It’s just that we need these products to be affordable while not compromising on quality.

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