Washington: Inhabitants of Brazil and India have the world’s most environmentally-sustainable lifestyle and Americans have the least, according to a new study tracking global attitudes towards consumption and the environment.
The survey by the National Geographic Society establishes a “Greendex” -- an index measuring the economic impact of consumer lifestyle choices -- in four key areas: housing, transportation, food and goods.
Overall, the survey determined that inhabitants of developing countries are most concerned about the impacts of their lifestyle choices on the environment, and made consumption choices reflecting these concerns.
Consequently their lifestyles had fewer adverse effects on the environment than people in developed countries.
High scorers - Brazil and India followed by China, Mexico, Hungary, Russia
The highest scores -- denoting the greatest environmental consciousness -- were found in Brazil and India, each tied with 60 points.
They were followed by consumers in China (56.1), Mexico (54.3), Hungary (53.2) and Russia (52.4).
Wealthy countries trail behind
Among consumers in wealthy countries, those in Great Britain, Germany and Australia each had a Greendex score of 50.2, while those in Spain registered a score of 50.0 and Japanese respondents, 49.1.
U.S. consumers had the lowest Greendex rating, at 44.9. People in the United States are by far the least likely to use public transportation, walk or bike to their destinations, or to eat locally grown foods, the report found.
Americans also had among the largest average residence size in the survey, and only 15% told the National Geographic Society that they minimize their use of fresh water. Other low-scoring consumers included Canadians with 48.5 and the French with 48.7.
Researchers found that in general, people in developed countries tend to live in big homes, often with environmentally costly air-conditioning, own more cars, drive alone more often and use public transport only infrequently. They are least likely to buy environmentally-friendly products.
Inhabitants of developing countries, by contrast, were more likely to live in smaller homes, use green products and own relatively few appliances or electronic gadgets. They also were more likely to walk, cycle, use public transportation and live close to their most frequent destinations.
With higher spending power, things could change
Researchers noted, however, that the index rankings could change as growing economic prosperity allows consumers to spend more.
The survey, conducted by the GlobeScan polling firm, found that consumers in emerging economies often aspire to higher material standards of living, and believe everyone should have the same living standards as those in the wealthiest countries.