Canadian Consumers: Second to Last on National Geographic Greendex Rank: 13th of 14th
National Geographic and the international polling firm GlobeScan have conducted a study measuring and monitoring consumer progress toward environmentally sustainable consumption in 14 countries around the world.
Canadian consumers’ Greendex score places them second from the bottom on this 14-country list, driven in large part by large home size and less environmentally friendly transportation behavior (e.g., high solo driving, low use of public transportation). This pattern is similar to that of the United States.
Looking specifically at the housing sub-index, 29% of Canadians surveyed have nine or more rooms in their homes, among the largest in household size. In addition, Canadians are among the most likely to have heating in their homes (92%). Canadian consumers are the most likely among those surveyed to report having insulation in their walls (83%); 33% say they always adjust the thermostat to save energy, about average. Looking at water use, 46% always use cold water for laundry, above average for countries surveyed, but just 16% minimize use of fresh water, below average.
Canadians rank poorly on transportation — 12th of 14 countries. Half (52%) drive alone daily, and 87% percent say they have one or more vehicles in their households. Canadian consumers rank among the lowest in use of public transportation, with just 22% saying they use it at least once a week.
More positively, on the food sub-index, Canadian consumers rank fifth of 14. While they indicate above-average beef consumption (77% at least weekly), this is mitigated somewhat by high levels of eating locally grown foods (77%), fruits and vegetables (94%), both well above average, as well as below-average levels of drinking bottled water (52%).
Looking at the components of the goods sub-index, Canadian consumers express the highest frequency of recycling (59% always do), alongside Australians, and a high tendency to sell or donate items that can be reused (46%). Canadians surveyed are about average in terms of their expressed intent to choose environmentally friendly products, and about half have energy-saving laundry machines and/or refrigerator/freezers, above average for both.
Looking at some of the primary attitudinal drivers for Greendex rankings, 19% of Canadian consumers believe that environmental problems are having a negative impact on their health, and 22% think global warming will worsen their own way of life, both below average. They tend to voice relatively low levels of guilt about their own impact on the environment (10%) and are just average among countries surveyed in saying they are trying very hard to reduce their own negative impact on the environment (20%).
Finally, looking at some related citizen behaviors, Canadian consumers are about average among those surveyed in terms of having based a recent voting decision on environmental concerns (25%), in having sought information on environmental issues (40%), and in saying they have recently talked with someone about climate change (63%). They are somewhat above average in having encouraged others to be more environmentally responsible (54%).