Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment — A worldwide tracking survey

National Geographic and international polling firm GlobeScan recently released the results of the third annual Greendex survey.   The Greendex is a quantitative study of 17,000 consumers in 17 countries.  Participants were asked questions about their energy use, consumer product use, transportation practices, beliefs about the environment and sustainability, and knowledge of environmental issues.  The answers were then calculated to churn out a Greendex score–the relative environmental impact of a person’s consumer choices.  Individual scores are averaged to create a mean score for each country.  The Greendex measures the impact of the average consumer in each country surveyed; it does not measure the environmental impact of a total country.

Here are some of the results:

–Indian consumers ranked as most sustainable.

–American consumers ranked least sustainable, followed by Canadians and the French.

–Biggest inhibitors of green behavior were:
         o    Perceived “greenwashing” (Greenwashing= intentionally overstating eco-friendliness  of a product or brand)
         o    Lack of environmental protection leadership by government and corporations.
         o    Cost was not a significant deterrent of green consumerism.

–Consumers in countries with developing economies (India, Brazil, China, Mexico) ranked as most sustainable consumers.

— Although Indian consumers ranked most sustainable, participants from
India were also the most likely to list that the “seriousness of
environmental problems is exaggerated” as a barrier to consciously
green consumption.

–Only 1 percent of American consumers surveyed listed the environment as the most important issue facing their country.

So what do we hope the Greendex aids in accomplishing?
Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Director for
the UN Environment Programme, says, “Consumer interest and pressure has
the potential to spur business on toward providing and manufacturing
goods and services, which in turn can move societies towards a
low-carbon, resource-efficient and more competitive Green Economy
urgently needed to put sustainability into the 21st century.”

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The Greendex results have the potential to make businesses realize that
it is in their best economic interest to become more sustainable, but
this doesn’t seem to have been the immediate response by businesses or
governments following the Greendex’s release.
Read the National Geographic Press Release

Use the Greendex Calculator to see how you compare to average consumers in other countries!

Take the Greendex Knowledge Quiz and see how much you know about our environment and compare yourself to how other countries answered!

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