Study: Consumers Are Using Less

The world’s consumers are spending less and paying more attention to their environmental impact, due in part to the economic crisis and the need to save on energy costs, says a new study conducted by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan.

Seventeen thousand consumers in 17 countries were surveyed and their consumer behavior evaluated in 65 areas relating to housing, food, transportation and consumer goods. Subcategories of consumer behaviors included subjects such as waste disposal and recycling, green product use and energy consumption. Of those surveyed:

According to the study, the French are the most likely to use reusable shopping bags, though this behavior is up amount consumers in 12 of 14 countries surveyed since last year.

According to the study, the French are the most likely to use reusable shopping bags, though this behavior is up amongst consumers in 12 of 14 countries surveyed since last year. Photo: Stock.xchng

  • 55 percent said they were “very concerned” about environmental problems
  • Six out of every 10 people polled believe they should consume less to preserve the environment for future generations
  • 85 percent of those polled indicated the primary reason for their drop in energy consumption was to save money

Of the countries surveyed, India, Brazil and China received the highest marks for environmentally positive consumer patterns. The U.S. and Canada received the lowest marks for environmental consumer patterns, as listed in the 2009 Greendex.

In this second annual survey, National Geographic and GlobeScan found an increase in environmentally friendly consumer behavior in 13 of the 14 countries surveyed both years.

Included in this behavior is the substantial increase of recycling in nine of the 14 countries surveyed in 2008 and 2009. Increasing as well was the number of consumers who prefer to repair rather than repurchase and the number of consumers who prefer to buy second-hand items over new ones.

“Interestingly, the economic upheaval appears to have had a silver lining for the environment,” says Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president of Mission Programs. “But will positive behavior changes survive when an economic recovery starts? We hope the green behaviors that consumers are adopting now to cut costs will become part of their permanent lifestyles and that environmental concerns will become increasingly important for consumers around the globe.”

To take an abbreviated version of the Greendex survey and determine your impact as a consumer, visit the Greendex Calculator, or take the Knowledge Quiz to see how you stack up in comparison to consumers from other countries.

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