US Consumers’ Behavior ‘Least Sustainable’ Globally

by | Sep 29, 2014

Greendex 2014Sustainable consumer behavior has decreased since 2012 in five countries including the US and China — with US consumers’ behavior still ranking the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of National Geographic’s Greendex study in 2008.

At the same time, the global analysis by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan finds consumers say they are increasingly concerned about environmental problems with the majority (61 percent) in 2014 saying they’re very concerned, compared with 56 percent in 2012.

The analysis measures consumer behavior in 65 areas related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods.

Compared to the study’s 2008 baseline, sustainable consumer behavior has increased in nearly every country tracked since the first survey, suggesting consumer behavior across the world is improving, albeit slowly.

Environmentally friendly behavior has increased in nine of the 17 countries that were surveyed in 2012: Argentina, Australia, Hungary, India, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, South Korea and Great Britain. However, sustainable behavior decreased since 2012 among consumers in Canada, China, Germany, Japan and the US.

Greendex 2014 surveyed 18,000 consumers in 18 countries and is the fifth iteration of the survey.

Among the 2014 findings:

  • Top-scoring consumers of the 2014 Greendex study are in the developing economies of India and China, followed by consumers in South Korea, Brazil and Argentina. Indian and Chinese consumers also scored highest in 2012.
  • More consumers are embracing local and organic foods and lightening their environmental footprint in the food category. Nearly all consumers believe that we need to change the way we produce and consume food in order to feed a growing population, and many say it is very important to know how and where their food is produced. Yet, relatively few people report that they do.
  • Consumers are anxious about climate change: 51 percent across the 18 countries surveyed in 2014 believe that global warming will negatively affect their own lives, up in seven surveyed countries from 2012 and down in none.
  • Furthermore, 65 percent of consumers overall believe that most scientists are convinced that human activity causes climate change.

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