How green are Australians?

Many of us are making conscious efforts to lessen our impact on the earth. From our diet, to the things we buy, to the way we get to work – there’s a lot we can do to tread lightly on the environment.


All images via National Geographic

Recently, Greenpeace Australia Pacific began a Green Living blog series to help supporters make better and more informed lifestyle choices. But how do the green habits of Australians rate compared to the rest of the world? A new study by the National Geographic reveals how green we really are down under.

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What is the Greendex?

Since 2008, National Geographic has released a yearly report on the environmental sustainability of the lifestyles and behaviours of ordinary citizens. Spanning up to 18 countries, the survey coveredenergy use conservation, transportation choices, food sources, the relative use of green products versus conventional products, attitudes toward the environment and sustainability, and knowledge of environmental issues.”

This year, the National Geographic found that broadly, environmental concerns have increased and that more participants noted climate change as a impending threat. The top-scoring participants were India and China – who also topped the Greendex in 2012. And Australia?


Lucky 13th?

Despite showing some improvements in earth-friendly behaviour and concern about the environment since 2012, Australians still rank relatively low on the Greendex.

While the rest of the world show increasing trust in climate change science – Australians remain sceptical about the human link to global warming. However, Australians remain among the world’s biggest recyclers, and personal food production and consumption habits have improved significantly. Let’s break it down:

Consumer trends in Australia

According to the Greendex country report, Australians are:

  • Less likely to avoid excessive packaging and environmentally unfriendly products
  • More likely to grow food at home, but also more likely to eat imported food frequently
  • The most frequent consumers of lamb, and among the most frequent consumers of beef
  • Among the least frequent consumers of bottled water, and less likely to consume packaged foods
  • Among the most likely to wash clothes in cold water and put heating and cooling settings on low to save energy
  • More likely to own cars or trucks, and among the least likely to use public transport, walk or bicycle

organic  recycle  bikes

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What about you?

Did the habits of ordinary Australians match your lifestyle – or are you dramatically different? You can do a shorter version of the Greendex survey to find out your own Greendex score. You can also read the full report on the National Geographic website here or the highlights report here.

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  • SydneySustainability

    Thanks for the post, this is really useful information to have. It is great to see that we are making some inroads but clearly there is room for improvement!

  • Annette Schneider

    We all need to reduce our carbon footprints, but do you realise that the inroads we are all making to consuming and using energy more responsibly are being wiped out by our country’s mining industry? If we dig up the coal and frack the CSG in Australia then, to me, it should be part of our per-capita carbon footprint. Newcastle is the World’s biggest coal port and we are the worlds 6th greatest greenhouse gas producer. Not good enough, Australia.

    Whitehaven, Nathan Tinkler’s old company, is digging a new open cut coal mine slap bang in the middle of a unique State Forest which is going to have the carbon emission equivalent of New Zealand, each year for the next 30 years if we let it go ahead. Farmers all over the country are fighting fracking wells polluting our air and water.

    Reducing our carbon footprint is doing good, but I think it is more important for our country to stop doing bad. Fight the fossil fuel industry now and close it down because our top scientists are telling us we have no time to lose.

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  • BarleySinger

    A bit hard to bike into town for groceries when it is 150kms away.

    Many of the poor scoring areas for Australia are more about GOVERNMENT not people. Everyone I talk to is worried. Weather is strange, has been very dry in Queensland & then drenched, farms can’t reliably know when to plant anything. Solar is HUGE in Australia (it costs less than your utility, even on a loan or addition to your mortgage). But the Abbot government (and those who bought them) are all about big coal, hoping to sell to China eternally; China who are quitting coal & are closing HALF of their own mines this year. They are grabbing for the fast bucks (with a big pollution payoff for thousands of years) by letting through “coal seam gas” and fracking EVERYWHERE – destroying the water table in very dry areas dependent on ground water (many of the farmlands or ecologically protected) and are ruining some of the most fertile land we have (there isn’t that much fertile land here, most of it has “dirt” high in sand and chalk, not “soil” at all).

    Only a small number of people agree with Abbots policy, but the refuse to trust in the Greens (Greens here never list “Economy” first on their publications – they need to learn from the German Greens).