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What Does Environmental Consumption Look Like Internationally?

By Nick

From time to time, we’ll be highlighting questions we receive from our “Ask our Helpdesk” program that we think have broad relevance. Have a question of your own? Send it our way.

A reader asks:
“I would like to know if there is an article about the environmental conscience around the world. If there is a country where the people are more careful than the others and why. If enviroconsumer could give that information I would appreciate. Also, it would be nice if the site had a “news section” that shows articles about the subject. Looking forward to an answer. Thank you.”

Thanks for your question. I’ll do my best to respond, but I think in this case, definitive answers may be lacking. International environmental consumption is also a broad issue, so if you want me to help you narrow in any more, feel free to let me know what you’re looking for. Are you looking for research in a scholarly journal, or are you more looking for a discussion? Generally speaking, consumer trends often follow two competing lines. As societies and cultures gain more wealth, their consumption generally goes up, but as segments of those societies gain more wealth, their environmental awareness tends to increase as well, but not enough to offset the overall culture’s increase in consumption.

On the consumer side, National Geographic does a survey in many countries then rates them based upon the responses. You can access their Greendex, as they call it, here: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/greendex/ – that’s probably the best consumer side resource we could find. Unfortunately, it leaves out the least developed countries, so its analysis is incomplete. Another study also attempts to understand these same trends, but is targeted at policy makers – you can find it here: http://www.naaee.net/sites/default/files/framework/EnvLiteracyExeSummary.pdf

On the government and institutional side of things, Yale’s Environmental Performance Index is excellent: http://epi.yale.edu/ as is their Environment 360 for news – http://e360.yale.edu/

If none of those hit the issues you’re looking for, just let me know, and we’ll see what else we can find. Also, thank you for your suggestion. At this time, we don’t see news as our role because we have very limited resources and think that many other organizations cover the news aspect pretty well (Treehugger is one example in the United States – I’m not as familiar with the news sites for environmental culture in other countries). At some point in the future we may expand into that role, but for now, our blog and slideshows are as close as we’ll get on that front.

Thank you to Sarah Sugar and ThienVinh Nguyen for their help in preparing this answer.


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