U.S. consumers rank last in world survey of green habits

McClatchy NewspapersMay 7, 2008 

WASHINGTON — Americans rank last in a new National Geographic-sponsored survey released Wednesday that compares environmental consumption habits in 14 countries.

Americans were least likely to choose the greener option in three out of four categories — housing, transportation and consumer goods_ according to the assessment. In the fourth category, food, Americans ranked ahead of Japanese consumers, who eat more meat and seafood.

The rankings, called "Greendex," are the first to compare the lifestyles and behaviors of consumers in multiple countries, according to the National Geographic Society.

It plans to conduct the 100-plus question survey annually and considers trends more important than yearly scores, said Terry Garcia, executive vice president of National Geographic's mission programs.

"This is not just a one-time snapshot," Garcia said. "Some of the most important information may yet be revealed."

India and Brazil tied for the highest score — 60 points out of a hundred. U.S. consumers scored 44.9.

In between, China scored 56.1, Mexico 54.2, Hungary 53.2, Russia 52.4, Great Britain 50.2, Germany 50.2, Australia 50.2, Spain 50, Japan 49.1, France 48.7 and Canada 48.5.

Results are based on 1,000 online respondents per country interviewed in January and February by GlobeScan, an international polling firm based in Toronto.

To see how you score, take an abbreviated version of the survey. It's at nationalgeographic.com/greendex

A separate GlobeScan survey showed consumers in Brazil, Mexico and China to be most concerned about global warming. In general, people in developing countries were more worried about harming the environment than those in developed ones were. They also live in smaller houses, are more likely to consume locally produced food and more likely to get to work by foot, bike or public transportation.

The consumer choice rankings were adjusted for factors in which individuals have no control, such as climate and the availability of mass transit.

McClatchy Newspapers 2008

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