Americans = Least Green Consumers

Americans rely heavily on cars and imported products.© Getty Images

In the first national ranking of environmental friendliness among consumers, Brazilians and Indians scored highest for their minimal resource use and low carbon footprints. The rankings were associated with everyday activities such as going to work, purchasing food and other goods and heating and cooling their homes. Americans scored the worst among consumers across the 14 developed countries surveyed, according to the National Geographic Society, which runs the new "Greendex" rankings.

In formulating the rankings, National Geographic hired the polling firm GlobeScan to survey 14,000 consumers in 14 countries about their energy use and conservation, transportation choices, food sources, the relative use of green products versus traditional products, attitudes towards the environment and sustainability, and knowledge of environmental issues. According to National Geographic’s Terry Garcia, the goal of Greendex is not to rank countries, but to assess consumer behavior in different parts of the world.

Brazilians ranked high, for example, due to small home sizes and little reliance on artificial heat or air conditioning. As for India, consumers there live in homes with small footprints, use minimal fossil fuel burning transportation, and source most food locally. On the flip side, Americans tend to live in large, resource-intensive homes, drive their cars a lot, and buy imported food and goods.

National Geographic intends to run the survey every year, using the first year’s findings as a baseline for comparison. "It will allow us, over time, to assess the progress that people are making to conserve, minimize waste and protect natural resources for the future," Garcia says.

Sources: National Geographic; MSNBC