Last week we asked readers how far they’d go to save a little money. Would you wash and re-use disposable plastic silverware? Get a “Doggie Bag” for your restaurant leftovers? Over 5,000 people responded to our Casual Fridays thriftfest last week — the most popular Casual Friday ever, thanks to a link from Consumerist.com.
In fact, I was a little concerned that the large response from an external site would skew our results, but I couldn’t find much indication of that — we had over 600 responses before the link appeared on The Consumerist, and responses didn’t change significantly afterwards.
So how thrifty are we? This chart offers a general summary of the results:
While most respondents are quite likely to get a doggy bag or re-use the back side of printed paper, for the other questions, respondents were more divided. People are about equally divided between soap-melders (who mush the old bar of soap together with the new ones) and soap-purists, who keep their new bars of soap pristine. Most people are unlikely to re-use old zipper bags or plastic silverware, but many are willing to re-use plastic containers like margarine tubs from the grocery store.
But given that there are many differences between individuals, we also wanted to know how those differences might arise, so we asked people to say how thrifty they thought their friends and family were in general. This graph shows the response:
As you can see, on average respondents rated themselves as thriftier than pretty much everyone they knew. Even the difference between respondents and their parents was significant due to our large sample size.
We also asked respondents to rate their parents and significant other/friend’s likelihood of performing specific acts of thriftiness. Here’s how they compare:
Once again, respondents generally thought that they were more likely to be thrifty than their loved ones. The only example of a loved one being rated as thriftier was re-use of Zipper bags: respondents rated their parents as slightly (but significantly) more likely to do this than themselves. Still, when all the responses to these specific questions are averaged together, the pattern still holds:
Despite this, there was a correlation between reported thriftiness of our respondents and the thriftiness of their loved ones. Thrifty people are significantly more likely to have thrifty parents, thrifty significant others, and thrifty friends than non-thrifty people. The only people respondents don’t correlate with on thriftiness are their bosses.
Several commenters pointed out that the custom of getting doggy bags is frowned upon in Europe, and that was borne out in the survey results: While 68.7 percent of North Americans said they were extremely likely to get doggy bags, only 31.5 percent of Europeans did. Otherwise, there wasn’t much difference in the results, no matter where the respondents came from. Even though many commenters complained about the final question, which asked “If you had to pick ONE of these sources for all your clothes, what would it be?”, in fact the responses were quite similar no matter where in the world the respondent lived:
(Because we had very few non-US respondents, most of these differences were non-significant. There were only 20 respondents from Mexico/Central America/Caribbean, for example)
Do you have any additional thoughts about this week’s study? Let us know in the comments.