National Geographic, together with our friends at Globescan, have released the Greendex. The international study, which covers 14 countries measures consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption. The intent is "to give people a better idea of how consumers in different countries are doing in taking action to preserve our planet by tracking, reporting, and promoting environmentally sustainable consumption and citizen behavior." The 14 countries included in the survey represent 55% of the world's population and include seven of the world's top eleven. In 2007, these 14 countries accounted for 75% of the energy consumed in the world that year.
The findings show that consumers in Brazil and India tie for the highest Greendex score for environmentally sustainable consumption at 60 points each. They are followed by consumers in China (56.1), Mexico (54.3), Hungary (53.2) and Russia (52.4). Among consumers in wealthy countries, those in Great Britain, Germany and Australia each have a Greendex score of 50.2, those in Spain register a score of 50.0 and Japanese respondents 49.1. U.S. consumers have the lowest Greendex score at 44.9. The other lowest-scoring consumers are Canadians with 48.5 and the French with 48.7.
The findings are interesting and perhaps not outrageously surprising (from the Greendex website):
People in developing countries are more likely to:
• Live in smaller residences
• Prefer green products and own relatively few appliances or expensive electronic devices
• Walk, cycle, or use public transportation, and choose to live close to their most common destination
By contrast, consumers in developed countries, who have more environmentally friendly options to choose from, often don't make those choices.
• They have larger homes and are more likely to have air-conditioning.
• They generally own more cars, drive alone most frequently and use public transport infrequently.
• They are least likely to buy environmentally friendly products and to avoid environmentally unfriendly products.
• U.S. consumers scored worse than those in any other country, developing or developed, on housing, transportation and goods. They are by far the least likely to use public transportation, to walk or bike to their destinations or to eat locally grown foods. They have among the largest average residence size in the survey. Only 15 percent say they minimize their use of fresh water.
The general findings of the study are also interesting. Globescan and National Geographic report that consumers feel empowered as individuals and are willing to make changes in their consumption habits. Consumer demand is strong for organic and local food. As well, consumers in developing countries feel more responsible for environmental problems than those in developed countries.
And of the many findings, they say that people in Brazil, China, India and Mexico reported being more affected by environmental problems than the respondents in Europe, North America and Australia. As a result, consumers in these large developing countries are more motivated to do something about it. Overall three quarters of the respondents agree that "we will need to consume a lot less to improve the environment for future generations."
You can read the complete 100+ page report here . You can also take a condensed version of the survey, which will helps in understanding the results and findings of the Greendex. This Treehugger scored 70. Try it yourself and tell us what your score is! It will be interesting to see how our readers fair in comparison to the countries that were polled.
Take the survey here and share your score!
More on Green Consumerism:
And at Planet Green there is lots of information on how you can incorporate green principles into your lifestyle.