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Americans Are Really Bad At Living Green But Aren’t Too Upset About It

Americans are “most confident that their individual actions can help the environment,” while simultaneously, “trailing the rest of the world in sustainable behavior.”

National Geophraphic News reports that that Americans are “most confident that their individual actions can help the environment,” while simultaneously, “trailing the rest of the world in sustainable behavior.”

This year Americans ranked last in sustainable behavior, as they have every year since 2008. Just 21 percent of Americans reported feeling guilty about the impact they have on the environment, among the lowest of those surveyed.

For the past four years, the National Geographic Society has partnered with a research organization to measure what they call the Greendex, a quantitative count of how environmentally friendly people are around the world.

This quantitative consumer study of 17,000 consumers in a total of 17 countries (14 in 2008) asked about such behavior as energy use and 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. A group of international experts helped us determine the behaviors that were most critical to investigate.

The research finds a positive relationship between the extent to which people feel guilty about their impact and the Greendex scores of average consumers in the same countries.

 America ranked dead last, immediately topped by Canada, Japan, and France. The top spots went to India, China, and Brazil.

 According to National Geographic News,

 Nicole Darnell, a researcher at the School of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU), called the association between guilt and Greendex scores “intriguing.”

“In order to feel guilty, you have to accept that some sort of problem exists,” said Darnall, who was not involved in the survey.

 

More from Smithsonian.com:

Building a Better World With Green Cement

Top Ten Kids’ Movies With a Green Theme

 

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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