Americans Greendex 2010 Score Only Slightly Improved

Environmentally sustainable behavior in 10 out of the 17 countries surveyed in the Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment — A Worldwide Tracking Survey increased over the past year, and has increased from 2008 in all but one of the 14 countries polled in that year and this year. Greendex 2010 is the third annual consumer survey by the National Geographic Society and international polling firm GlobeScan. The results of the survey, which measures consumer behavior in 65 areas related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods in 17 countries, were released last week.

Although American consumers’ average score increased by 1.3 points each year, they still have not surpassed Canadian consumers’ 2008 score. American consumers rank as the least sustainable among the countries surveyed, followed by Canadian, French and British consumers. Consumers in India, Brazil and China rank as the most environmentally sustainable, in descending order.

The survey polled consumers on 10 factors and the results show that greenwashing is number one for discouraging consumers from adopting sustainable behaviors. The second most discouraging factor was governments and industries not doing their part. The survey results said, “GlobeScan’s analysis of the data reveals that these two perceptions directly or indirectly suppress more sustainable consumption and put downward pressure on Greendex scores.”

Brazilians, Indians, Mexicans and Chinese are the top scorers in housing, while Canadians, British, Japanese and Americans are the bottom six scorers. American consumers ranked low in the use of public transportation, along with Australian and Canadian consumers. American, Australian and Canadian consumers are also less inclined to walk or ride a bike to their daily destinations.

In contrast, almost half (47 percent) of Russian consumers report using public transportation daily or most days. British, Canadian and Indian consumer have reduced the amount of time driving alone in a car since 2008, but Chinese consumers who drive alone increased by six percent.

Despite the locavore movement in the U.S., Australians, Russians, Chinese, and Indians are most likely to eat locally grown food frequently, while only one-third of or less of Swedish, Japanese, and South Koreans report that they consume locally grown food at least several times a week.

In the goods categories, the scores increased for average consumers in the wealthy countries, including the U.S., but also for Brazil, Russia and Mexico. However, the majority of consumers in 15 of the 17 countries surveyed said they prefer to repair something when it breaks rather than replace it. As for recycling, Consumers in North America and Western Europe are most likely to recycle “all of the time” or “often.”

Reusable bags are popular in most of the countries surveyed as the majority of consumers in most countries report frequently using reusable bags while shopping. More Canadian consumers started using them the past year. Two of Canada’s major grocery stores charge a five-cent surcharge on all plastic bags, and governments are increasingly mandating similar surcharges. “Government regulation can have powerful impact on everyday consumer behavior,” the survey results declared.

American consumers love their television. Americans consumers report living in households with four or more televisions. Almost all consumers report having at least one television. However, over half of American consumers report frequently recycling electronic items, up from 2008 levels.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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