Thursday, May 08, 2008

U.S. Consumers Score Lowest On Geographic Society Greendex

May 7: The National Geographic Society (NGS) and the international polling firm GlobeScan unveiled a new mechanism for measuring and comparing individual consumer behavior as it relates to the environment. "Greendex™ 2008: Consumer Choice and the Environment -- A Worldwide Tracking Survey" looks at environmentally sustainable consumption and behavior among consumers in 14 countries. NGS said this first-of-its-kind study reveals surprising differences between consumers in developed and developing countries in terms of environmentally friendly actions. This year's results are a baseline against which results of future annual surveys will be compared, in order to monitor improvements or declines in environmentally sustainable consumption at both the global level and within countries.

The Greendex survey was conducted online earlier this year among 14,000 consumers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Spain and the United States. A panel of 27 international experts in global sustainability helped identify which consumer behaviors were most crucial to investigate. One thousand people in each country answered questions that measured their behavior in the areas of housing, transportation, food and consumption of goods; each respondent earned a score that reflected the environmental impact of his or her consumption patterns, which included size and energy-efficiency of residence, commuting mode and distance and use of fresh water, among dozens of other measures. Consumers were then assigned a Greendex score (a measure of the relative environmental sustainability of their consumption patterns) out of 100. Consumers in Brazil and India scored highest; U.S. consumers scored lowest.

NGS said that unlike other measures that rank countries according to the environmental performance of their governments, businesses and other factors, the Greendex is the first to rank the performance of individual consumers, rather than countries as a whole. The results are strikingly different from existing performance rankings like the Environmental Performance Index [See WIMS 1/23/08], the Environmental Sustainability Index or Ecological Footprint.

Terry Garcia, NGS's executive vice president of Mission Programs said, "The Greendex gives us an unprecedented, meaningful look at how consumers across the globe are behaving. It will allow us over time to assess the progress that people are making to conserve, minimize waste and protect natural resources for the future. Consumers who score highest have a responsibility to maintain their behavior and provide an example to those who need to improve. We hope the study inspires all consumers, particularly those in countries where consumers scored lowest, to adopt the best behaviors of those who scored well, and that consumers in countries with expanding economies, who may consume more in the future, will do so responsibly."

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.

Access a lengthy release with links to individual country profiles (
click here). Access backgrounders, fact sheets and related release on the Greendex (click here). Access the Greendex website for additional information and links to calculate your personal Greendex score (click here). [*All]