Sustainable You

Sustainability and the Built Environment

4900/6900: SY #6 Are Americans Falling Short?

Response due at the beginning of seminar on 2/16.

We will keep the dialogue open about Cradle to Cradle, but one of the main questions most people ask is the feasibility of introducing C2C in an industrialized country versus countries in the process of industrializing. To begin a sense of how to look at these issues, please follow the steps below:

1. Please read the report Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey.

2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.

3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.

4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?

5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?

6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.

7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?

Side article: An article related to consumption but not sustainability came my way this morning and seemed appropriate to share with you if you are interested. As a Mom of a 20 month I often consider what Lane will be asking for because it has been marketed to her: Article – The Next Great American Consumer. What scares me about this article is that Laney can identify DORA. She sees a picture and it is Dora, Dora, Dora. The worse part is that she has only seen Dora’s show a couple times, but now that she has shown such interest in Dora, we buy Dora books (anything to keep her interest in a book), we have a Dora toothbrush, we just bought Dora big girl underwear since she is potty training and tonight we bought a toddler toilet with Dora on it. Ironically, till I wrote this out in this post, I hadn’t thought about how much Dora has already been consumed in her little life. This is interesting to me because I remember wanting things/toys so badly when I was a child, I presume I saw many of the things I wanted on commercials. I’m trying to think if I became a life long consumer of any products that were introduced to me as a child, hmmmm…….

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Filed under: Sustainable Design

24 Responses

  1. Katherine Holland says:

    1. Please read the report, Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment-A worldwide Tracking Survey.

    2. The four main areas of consumption behavior that this survey examined include: housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods.

    3. The “Overall Rankings” for consumers in America in the year 2008 was 42.4. In 2009, American’s were at 43.7, and in 2010, American’s were at 45.0. Overall, American’s rank low on the sustainability survey.

    4. I feel that American’s consume a large portion of the world’s energy. First if all the American population is increasing which increases consumption. Americans also eat and throw out large amounts of edible food daily, which is wasteful. Another contribution to the large amount of American’s consumption is the amount of rural land lost due to the development of buildings. I believe all of these reasons listed impose on the low overall rating American’s scored on the list of sustainable consumption.

    5. I believe there are a few reasons why there has been a slight increase in American’s sustainable consumption since year 2008. First, there was more sustainable behavior in the housing category in both 2009 and 2010 according to the Greendex scores. Secondly, the economic stimulus programs may have played a part as well. Thirdly, the survey then also explains the results of both cost considerations and environmental concerns that could have motivated consumers to be more sustainable.

    6. I think that the current economic recession will increase Americans awareness of sustainable consumption. Throughout the recession, people are increasingly searching for ways to conserve and save money. Living sustainably and eco-friendly has been proven to save money in some areas. For example, changing the products and appliances in the home is a trendy way Americans are saving money by lowering their energy costs. Another reason Americans might become more aware of sustainable consumption is the “idea of saving the Earth.” I believe it is becoming trendy and cool to recycle and reduce your “carbon footprint” during this recession. My last reason for Americans and their awareness increase due to the current recession is the amount of government regulation that is enforced. I feel the recession has impacted the government to regulate consumption behaviors (e.g. water consumption regulations).

    7. The factors the survey identified as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from charging their behaviors include:

    • “Companies make false claims about the environmental impact of their products.”
    • “Individual efforts are not worth it if governments and industries don’t take action.”
    • “People in my country are not doing their part.”
    • “People in other countries are not doing their part.”
    • “It costs too much to help.”
    • “Few environmentally friendly options are available.”
    • “Not enough information about how to help.”
    • “I am confused by too much information.”
    • “It is too inconvenient to help the environment.”
    • “The seriousness of environmental problems is exaggerated.”

  2. ajnowaczyk says:

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.

    The survey looked at Housing, Transportation, Food and Goods.

    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.

    Americans are last on the survey. ☹ While I’m not surprised, I’m more surprised with the rankings of Indians and the Chinese. They are rising powers now and it would seem that their environmental footprint wouldn’t be at the forefront of things during their industrial revolution, but it seems that it is. It makes me wonder if what America, Britain, Canada and France knew then what we know now, would things have been different during our development?

    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?

    I think habit has a lot to do with the ranking.

    We’re a very self-involved, short-term, in the now (sort of) country. We rarely think about the long-term ramifications of things. Unintended consequences are rampant and reelections are a constant cycle of deadlock and sustained stances.

    Everyone’s too worried about political calculation instead of political courage. Of course campaign finance reform is an easy solution to this problem, but in order to get campaign finance reform passed, we need to have the right people elected, in order to get the right people elected, we need campaign finance reform… you see, it’s an endless cycle that is almost impossible to change.

    I’m cynical, so I don’t know that I’m the right person to ask. I think Americans are like kids that need to be incentivized for cleaning their rooms. That’s a start to the change, I guess, tax credits, etc.

    I also think the fact that the media and political “leaders” vilify people like Al Gore. Gore had a 57% approval rating in 2007 after his efforts to bring Global Warming (climate change is probably a more acceptable name for it) after his separation from his wife in 2010, he had a 44% approval rating. I don’t think we should hold Gore to the model of making sure EVERY bulb in his house is a compact fluorescent, but the guy really dedicated many years of his life to bringing attention to a specific cause. He never campaigned on that family values platform, so if he and his wife aren’t together, I can separate that from my view of his “Green” agenda, most Americans can’t, that’s why we have the political climate we do now. Just saying.

    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?

    I think an increase is probably due to the cost decrease in implementing green and sustainable practices and procedures. Cost is extremely prohibitive when it comes to consumers entering the green market. Most (I would imagine) are unable to see the future savings when compared against the initial costs.

    Technology changes rapidly too, so caveat emptor (buyer beware) of adapting a new technology such as compact fluorescents when LED are now the hot new thing just a couple years later. The tech changes mean the obsolete items are now discounted, resulting in affordability. Just my guess on situations.

    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.

    I think the current state of the economy is a great time for teaching moment. The Department of Energy needs to really push strongly to educate people on cost-benefit savings approach. Produce evidence, subsidize implementation and EDUCATE. Obama needs encourage businesses to adapt these energy conservation measures, again, we’ll probably have to reward people and hold their hands, but it’s a start, hopefully a start that will roll downhill.

    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?

    False claims about the effectiveness of products, failed leadership of government, people don’t feel that their efforts are being matched by their fellow countrymen or other nations and lack of environmentally friendly options available to consumers.

    I think Kermit said it best when he said “It ain’t easy being green.”

  3. Megan Greene says:

    1. N/A
    2. The four main areas of consumption behavior that the survey examined was housing, transport, food and, goods.
    3. American consumers’ behavior was ranked as the least sustainable of all the countries that were surveyed in 2008, and Americans are still the least sustainable today. The rankings for consumers in America in 2008 were 42.4. Then in 2009 they increased to 43.7, and in 2010 Americans were at 45.0.
    4. There are multiple reasons why Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption. One being that many Americans use air conditioning in homes or businesses, while most European countries do not. Most Americans have their own car, and in other countries the citizens get around by walking or bicycling, wasting less gas. Also, the US is more industrialized than other countries. Americans seem to have a way of thinking that because our nation is so powerful, nothing bad can happen. I believe that it would be easier for an unindustrialized country to live sustainably since they have not been accustomed to the wasteful type of living that we have. Other countries are thankful for what they can have and are careful not to waste things. We, for the most part, are not like that. It is harder to change a way of living that is already in place than to just start off the right way.
    5. There has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008 due to more sustainable behavior in the housing category. Consumers made attempts to improve the energy efficiency in their houses. Also, I think that Americans have just become more aware of the environmental concerns that are present and realizing how they will soon affect us. This has pressured people to become more sustainable with their way of living.
    6. I think the current economic recession is actually very helpful in promoting sustainability. Right now, Americans are looking for any way to cut back on expenses and waste in order to save money. With more education and publicizing of sustainability, it will be hard for people to avoid the benefits of living sustainably. For example, changing to more eco-friendly appliances in households helps to save energy, therefore lowering monthly bill payments. Saving energy will help our country slowly work its way out of this economic downturn. The government really needs to see how this will help our economy and then motivate others to follow in this movement.
    7. Consumers are discouraged from changing their behaviors because: of false claims about products, not enough effort shown from government and industries, they think it costs too much or is inconvenient to help the environment, there are few environmentally friendly options available, or not enough information is given concerning ways to help out.

  4. Katie Jones says:

    1. N/A
    2. The article identified that the four main areas of consumption behavior are housing, transport, food, and goods.
    3. Out of the 17 countries surveyed, America ranked as the least sustainable in the past 3 years. In 2008, we posted our lowest score of 42.4 and this barely rose to 43.7 in 2009 and 45.0 in 2010. This actually kinda surprised me because I had always been taught that the Chinese were treating the environment 10 times worse than Americans were. I have even been told that no matter how much we try to help the environment, all our efforts become obsolete because China produces so much waste.
    4. To be honest, I was kinda shocked when we were considered last in terms of sustainable countries. I am not saying by any means that we are the poster child for sustainability but I never thought that we would fall behind India and China. However, in terms of consumption Americans are definitely one of the worst. We live in country where everyday we are influenced to buy the latest and greatest products and our popular culture has us believe that the more luxurious we live, the better we are regarded in society. Going along with this wealthy theme, automobiles have become a huge part of our American culture. A simple trip to the local grocery store right down the street requires lazy Americans to jump in their cars, whereas other nations take to walking to fulfill their everyday errands. We also possess a certain bit of “cockiness” that makes us believe we can do anything and bypass all of the consequences. Therefore, it makes us act impulsively and recklessly in terms of the environment.
    5. I think in recent years the “going green” movement has started to become increasingly popular in our society. The world’s growing population, global warming, etc. has started to bring issues to the forefront of our daily news and Americans are just beginning to understand the implications for our wasteful actions. This has caused brand marketers to jump on the band wagon and therefore even enlightened some of the most rural customers. I think this is a trend that we will continue to see grow as more and more education is provided and more issues become hard to ignore.
    6. I think the current economic recession can either increase and decrease. On the one hand, the lack of sustainable income in our country can decrease the amount of waste we produce because we are unable to purchase the amount of products that we use to. Also, because of the recession, Americans are looking for ways to cut back on their monthly bills. If we properly educated the everyday American on the benefits not just environmentally but economically of sustainable household appliances then we could not only help the environment but save the everyday consumer money as well. Americans are looking for a different way to live because our current situation isn’t working, so therefore this could be the perfect time to educate them on sustainability. In contrast, I think that the recession could also decrease awareness of sustainability. Because “green” products tend to cost more, Americans may be tempted to just buy the cheaply made, horribly unsustainable products just because they lack the funds to do otherwise. Since Americans are focused on the stresses of money and providing a roof of their families heads, sustainability could unfortunately become the last thing that they want to deal with and turn away from the whole idea.
    7. The article identified many factors that discourage consumers from changing behaviors. These include, false claims made by companies, lack of action from government officials, lack of money, laziness on the part of my fellow citizens and other surrounding countries, lack of education on the subject, the issues are exaggerated, and too few environmentally friendly products to choose from.

  5. Melodie Davis-Bundrage says:

    1. Done

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.

    Housing, Transportation, Food & Consumer Goods

    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.

    Americans are in last place, not surprisingly. In 2008, 42.4 %, in 2009, 43.7%, and in 2010, 45%.

    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?

    Americans have the last position largely due to our consumption culture and lack of education on sustainble issues. Prior to 2008, the middle class was not in decline so I think if an educational campaign was developed during those years and rolled out through states and companies we would have seen a higher rate of behavior change pre-recession. I direct my response to the middle class because I think sustainability is not as prevalent with higher incomes, the more you make the more you consume although greener options are more affordable and because the initial outlay of costs that correspond with behavior change are high, it keeps the lower income population from being able to make the impact or changes they probably desire.

    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?

    I think the increase is due to education and marketing increasing the awareness and demand for products and behavior change in turn increasaing supply. The more green options we are offered, the more we participate whether intentionally or not. Also, as the article stated in housing Americans have increased enery efficiency in their homes. That is probably due to the tax benefits that can be received for making these changes to the home. Although a benefit, it still had to be rolled out with education and marketing of the benefit and how to take advantage.

    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.

    I think the current economic recession will increase Americans awareness of sustainable consumption because of the change in thinking supporting the local economy and businesses or DIY tasks. When problems confront you in your own part of town you tend to take longer term action to correct the problem. That can translate into buying more groceries and eating out less which normally means eating healthier and buying in bulk to save money to changing laundry habits or replacing machinery to reduce energy costs, supporting your local designer or boutique that was newly opened due to people having to employ themselves now becuase they can’t find a job….etc. Once we are aware though our attitudes and intent must prompt actual purchases and that is where the low % increase may be explained as we tradeoff what we can afford with our desires to act on our awareness. Throughout the recession, most will still have reducing cost as the major consideration and that should result in a continuation of slight increases in sustainable behavior but the recession does act as a barrier to change happening as rapidly as it otherwise could.

    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?

    1. Companies claiming false impact
    2. Individual efforts not enought without government and business
    3. People in my country not doing enough
    4. People in ohter countries not doing enought
    5.Costs too much
    6. Few eco-friendly options are available
    7. Not enough information
    8. Too confusion to help
    9. Inconvenient to help
    10. Exaggerating of seriousness of the problem

  6. Mary Alice Jasperse says:

    2. Housing, Transportation, Food, and Consumer Goods

    3. Overall, in 2008 we scored a 42.2, in 2009, a 43.7, and in 2010 a 45.0. We were dead last each year.

    4. What I found interesting about his survey is that there were many countries with higher populations and lower standards of living (India and China) as well as lower to equal populations and similarly high standards of living (Britain, Canada, France). Many times I have experienced the mentality among Americans that we naturally consume more than the rest of the world due to our high standard of living and our relatively large population. Also, it is somewhat problematic that our economic growth model (sorry to get all economics-ey) for more than a century has been based on consumerism. We look back at our periods of economic growth and see that we have booming local economies when we are in wars (which increase demand for goods through export demand). Anyway, so we’ve been taught to think that when people are buying new cars and new outfits we are helping the economy. Also, in a less institutionalized, arguably valid way, we are constantly inundated with images of people that we’re supposed to think are successful because they live in ostentatious houses and get limos to pick their punk kids from day care. Think “Real Housewives of X-city.” So I guess I’m saying consumption is ingrained into our brains from many different angles. Also, Americans have this thing where we think the definition of “success” is a too-big house on a one-acre lot and a one-hour drive to work every morning, where the only contact with the community we get is when we haul our over-filled garbage can to the road at the same time as our neighbor.

    5. The pessimist in me wants to respond, “because the only way to go was up.” However, I think there has been a big wave of soft-core green consumption. Which helps a little bit. Also, since the economy is in the can people have been laying low on doing big projects like building new houses and buying boats. Green, to some extent has become cool and almost elite. Like, “I’m rich enough to be green.” Which is really weird, but whatever makes people do the right thing…I guess. Also, I think many people have seen economic pressure as a challenge to become more resourceful, which is encouraging for our country as a whole. We still have some huge institutional issues that we need to take care of before we can really move forward…but I guess we need to take baby steps here.

    6. Well, I think it depends. If we are eased through this recession with subsidized gas prices and little realization of our consumption habits, we will probably not really change very much. However, I believe that our economy has a breaking point. A point at which people look at their lives not from a “gas is really expensive” standpoint. But from a “if we make these 3 changes in our lives (and I think these are different for most people, but most are centered around driving the way they eat food), we will be able to save so much money! There is going to be a point (that hopefully doesn’t shut the economy down completely) that will force almost every area of industry to reevaluate their business plan. One of our main problems in this recession is that we know it’s going to get better. Deep down, we think that as soon as we make changes gas will go back down and we’ll feel stupid and duped (one of the areas the article mentioned as a sore subject). Once we start to realize that we have a chronic condition and it’s only getting worse, things will start to really change.

    7.
    1. Companies claiming false impact (Greenwashing)
    2. Individual efforts not enought without government and business
    3. People in my country not doing enough
    4. People in ohter countries not doing enought
    5.Costs too much
    6. Few eco-friendly options are available
    7. Not enough information
    8. Too confused to help
    9. Inconvenient to help
    10. Exaggerating of seriousness of the problem

  7. Melissa Worth says:

    2) Housing, transport, food, & goods

    3) Americans have been last on the “Overall Rankings” for the past several years: 42.4 in 2008, 43.7 in 2009, & 45.0 in 2010.

    4) I think Americans fall last on the “Overall Rankings” because we are a very consumer-driven society. Everyone wants to live the American dream—to have two kids and a white picket fence, and unfortunately, in order to show people that we’ve “made it” in the world, we consume more and more products that are damaging to the environment, such as gas-guzzling SUVs. Also, a lot of American manufacturers, such as Apple, intentionally design their products so that they’re just “good enough.” That way, in a couple of months, their products will be obsolete & we will be forced to go back into the market & buy their latest gadgets in order to keep up with society’s expectations.

    5) I think there’s been a slight increase in Americans’ sustainable consumption since 2008 because there’s been more discussion and education, both in politics & everyday life. I think that we are starting to realize that the choices that we are making today are going to have negative effects on future generations, which has been evidenced by such events as the melting of the polar icecaps. Also, I think that “going green” has become “cool,” and as a result, consumers are driving the demand for manufacturers to produce more sustainable products, such as hybrid cars. Today, there are more sustainable options than ever before, and they’re most cost effective as well.

    6) I think that the current economic recession will cause Americans to become more sustainable; however, I’m not sure that the recession will have any impact on Americans’ awareness of sustainable consumption. For example: people aren’t building their houses as large and they aren’t buying gas-guzzling SUVs as often, but I think that’s coming out of a necessity to reduce costs more than anything else. Gas is expensive right now, and I think that may be causing some people to make the switch from gas to electric cars. Maybe after the recession is over though, people may begin to see how their recent behaviors have had a positive impact on the environment.

    7) Companies make false claims about the environmental impact of their products; individual efforts are not worth it if governments & industries don’t take action; people in my country are not doing their part; people in other countries are not doing their part; It costs too much to help; few environmentally friendly options are available; not enough information about how to help; I am confused by too much information; it is too inconvenient to help the environment; and the seriousness of environmental problems is exaggerated.

  8. Brittany Biggers says:

    2. Four main areas of consumption examined: housing, transportation, food, goods.

    3. Americans have the lowest Greendex ranking according to the survey.

    4. I think that Americans have the lowest ranking because of the consumer driven society we live in. Americans are so focused on having the best of everything, that they will buy new products that they feel they “need” and just throw away old products that are still in perfectly good working condition. It seems that Americans are less motivated to be sustainable, because we are sheltered from the immediate effects that unsustainable actions lead to. Other countries might be more motivated to live sustainably due to economic or political constraints.

    5. I think that America’s Greendex score has risen slightly in recent years, because of the recent trend to “go green.” More and more companies are coming out with green products. This trend is helping to change attitudes towards the idea that going green and being sustainable is the cool thing to do. Also, I think that more Americans are becoming educated on the various environmental threats facing our planet and are (hopefully) making more of an effort to help the cause.

    6. I think the economic recession will encourage people to become more sustainable. Living a more sustainable life can be cheaper by buying less unneeded products and using less energy. Any family having to cut corners due to the recession could easily do this by making more sustainable choices. The only question I have is after the recession is over, how many families will continue on with their sustainable lifestyle and how many will go back to their previous high-consumption ways?

    7. Factors that discourage consumers to change their behaviors: companies lying about the environmental impact of their products, individual effort not worth if it big action is not taken by government and industry, fellow citizens not doing their part, high costs, low number of environmentally friendly options, no enough information, confused by too much information, inconvenient, the environmental problem is being exaggerated.

  9. Hannah Greenberg says:

    1. Please read the report Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey.
    2. The four main areas that were Housing, Transportation, Food, and Goods.
    3. Americans ranked lowest on the overall rankings, which sadly does not come as a surprise to me. In 2008, we were at 42.4 only growing to 43.7 in 2009. In 2010, we reached 45. There is not much growth between these years at all.
    4. I think we are the lowest on the rankings because the US is country driven by mass production and consumerism. We buy everything, and often. With Americans buying things often, it means that they are disposing of these products. Most products are not environmentally friendly, making the constant mass disposal not sustainable. We also mass-produce homes in our country. These homes are often built with the cheapest materials and built within a matter of months. Specifically, a lot of the college houses in Athens are poorly insulated, making them not sustainable. As for transportation, I am not shocked at all that we were this low. Americans love driving gas-guzzling SUVs (myself, included-sorry!!). These use a lot of gas, and emit it into the air. Americans also rarely carpool adding to the amount of gas consumed. As far as food goes, America is known for its famous golden arches (McDonalds). We love fast food, and love to eat processed food. I think the amount of people that eat organic and local is very few compared to those who do not.
    5. The survey notes that part of the reason for this increase was due to more sustainable behavior in the housing category. I think Americans have also become more aware of the need to become more sustainable. I also think it has become “trendy.” Americans love doing what is considered cool, and eco-friendly and green products have recently become cool.
    6. I think it will both increase and decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption. I think it will increase because people are trying to save in all aspects of their life, and invest properly. So while an eco-friendly car may not be the cheapest, people might buy it to save in the long run. I think it will decrease though because it is expensive for companies to change their ways and go green. From a business standpoint, they do not want to lose money to create sustainable products.
    7. There were several factors identified as to why consumers are discouraged from changing their behaviors. It mentioned cost, lack of information, inconvenience, false claims, not enough options, and more. It stated that false claims was the greatest factor, however, I still view cost as the greatest.

  10. Ari Strickland says:

    1. Please read the report Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey.

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.
    -housing,transportation, food, and consumer goods

    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.
    -….Americans are at the very bottom of the chart at 45% in 2010.

    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?
    America was built on industrialism over a century ago and that is what our economy thrives on. It’s all about the most profit, as soon as possible and disregards the bigger issues of environmental damage, etc. We are a nation of consumers and we want the newest and best of everything in the material world. We live too fast to ponder the most useful option.

    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?
    –In 2008, the “live green” campaign made it’s way into the media and became a new hot topic. The stable enviornmental basis of the movement supported it’s cause and kept people participating. Since then, more companies are catching on to the trend and the option is becoming more widely available.

    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.
    –I think this recession will increase Americans awareness of sustainable consumption because consumers are trying to get the most benefits and best quality products out of their dollars. There are countless environmental, health and local economic benefits of sustainable consumption. Since sustainable products are quickly becoming more widespread on the market, the prices are decreasing so expense isn’t a problem. Hopefully more people will turn to sustainable consumption throughout 2012.

    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?
    –Consumers are discouraged from taking action because they think that environmental problems are exaggerated and too costly.

  11. Karen Cotton says:

    1. I read the report Greendox 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey
    2. The four main areas of consumption behavior are Housing, Transportation, Food and Goods.
    3. According to the survey, unfortunately Americans ranked the lowest. I was surprised becuase of the attention towards environmental sustainability. I guess actions speaks louder than words.
    4. One reason that Americans rank low is because we want to be in our car alone going to and from work instead of car pooling and/or using public transportation. Alot of Americans do not live close to their jobs. They move far out because they can get more house for their money and they do not want public transportation in their communities so that they can keep unwanted folks out.
    5. There has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008 probably because of this survey(America is suppose to be on top not the bottom). Pressure by different groups are putting pressure on Companies to do the right thing. More information is becoming available and when you know better; you do better.
    6. I think current economic recession will increase Americans awareness of sustainable consuption. For example, with the rising fuel cost and the pollution from all of the cars being on the road, there is a group in Atlanta that wants to help consumers out. They have a web site where you can track you you usage of public transportation and car pooling, submit your information and they have weekly drawings for $25 gift cards. Therefore, not only are you playing a part in being sustainable but you are receiving an incentive to participate.
    There are several factors the survey identified as the reason consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behavior.
    #1 being that Companies made false claims about the environment impact of thrir product
    #2 Individual efforts are not worth it if government and industries do not take action
    #3 People in their country are not doing their part
    #4 People in other countries are not doing their part
    #5 It cost too much to help
    #6 Few environmentally options are available
    #7 Not enough information about how to help
    #8 I am confused about too much information
    #9 It is too inconvenient to help the environment
    #10 Too seriousness about environmental probles is exaggerated.

  12. Maggie Benoit says:

    2. The four areas of consumption are: housing, transportation, food, and goods
    3. Americans rank the lowest of the 17 countries surveyed
    4. I think the dissemination of information is a big factor here. Interest is not ignited enough and for a majority of the population the catalyst that an expanse of information creates is lacking. In order to grow, one needs to be fed. Action takes desire. Awareness creates desire. Though the “green” stamp of approval is making its marketable strides, the message often gets lost n translation. Given the current climate of the media, building awareness is not the greatest imperative. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sad that Whitney Houston died too, but the environment needs our help + we as consumers need *constant reminders* of how we can hold its hand. Also, cost is a barrier that can’t be ignored…especially in the economy we face today. Because of this, certain trade-offs – or perspective on priorities rather – shift on the chain of command – ie. for the average American, buying local food is the more expensive (and therefore less desirable) option of consumption.
    5. With that said, the mind of the masses is starting to be tapped. Knock, knock – someone’s at the door. Though I think the message regarding the reality of impact our small daily actions have on the environment is not made readily available or deemed of enough importance (yet) that does not mean we can’t get there or that we’re not starting to turn the wheels in the right direction. The sustainability train is starting to pick up the pace. Seeds aren’t being planted. The “go green” movement is become this constant tap on our skulls. Yes, this may become a bit berating. But that’s simply because we don’t fully understand “it” just yet – from the perspective of those who have grown up in the land of flowing commodities. Those seeds need some nurturing. We need to learn about how to tend to them. Joe Blow is not going to answer the door until he knows who exactly is knocking and understands the importance of entertaining a conversation with him.
    6. There are two ends of this spectrum. On the one hand, people are more aware of money and how they spend it. There is no way of sugar coating the fact that the sustainable route is not necessarily the most convenient or cost effective route. So, when it comes down to the bottom line – which in this case is the dollar – the high road (the sustainable road) is not always the most practical answer from a personal standpoint. On the other hand, the atmosphere of culture and government and economy is creating a lot of questions. It’s evident; we are faced with local, national, global and environmental problems. The voice of these issues is building its umph and projecting fairly audibly through the megaphone. So then, people are looking for answers. These inquiries search for an inkling of resolve. And in that search, destinations such as the Internet and the community tend to leave footprint towards awareness, and furthermore, possible solutions. Within every footprint is a pod of information that leaves a clue towards the next step. We are staring the follow Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. ET – it’s time to phone home…

    7. Barriers are indicated as: false claims from companies about the impact of their products (most), cost, a lack of environmentally friendly options, information, and the idea that environmental issues are exaggerated (least). People want “less talk, more action.”

  13. Danielle McDaniel says:

    1. N/A
    2. The four main areas of consumption are: housing, transport, food, and goods.
    3. Americans were ranked lowest out of the 17 countries. 2008- 42.4 2009- 43.7 2010- 45.0
    4. I think the reason why Americans scored the lowest in overall rankings is because our culture is based on consumption. Americans can tend to have a very short attention span when it comes to owning something; we always want the newest and best thing. If you get the newest cell phone on the market something even better will come along in less than a month.
    5. Sustainability has become more popular in recent years and I think Americans have begun to find ways to be more sustainable. Trends in sustainable living are advertised more. For example, cars with better gas mileage or buying organic are advertised more.
    6. I would hope that it would increase awareness. A lot of Americans were living beyond their means due to their rate of consumption. Also I think that many have had to rethink how they spend their money; the focus becomes more on what I need rather than what I want. I think that is sustainable because it cuts down consumption.
    7. The highest ranked reason why consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors is from companies making false claims about the environmental impact of their product (greenwashing). Reasons also include, individual efforts are not worth it if government and industries don’t take action and the claim that other people in my country and other countries aren’t doing their part.

  14. Heather B. says:

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.
    The Greendex measures “areas related to housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods. Past findings identified more developed countries as heavier consumers, and when we look at the categories measured, we can see why—some nations have no transportation vehicles, riding animals or walking on foot to get from place to place. Others don’t pay for housing since they live in self-constructed huts or are nomadic. In regards to food, some nations largely hunt or farm to supply their own needs.
    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.
    Americans are still the least sustainable consumers on the list, however, along with Russians and Indians, we have improved our consumption practices the most between the 2008 and 2010 Greendex.
    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings”? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?
    I think that our culture of consumerism and the lifestyles that have been created in accordance with such pressures affect our ranking the most. More than just a “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality established long ago in our society, I think many Americans are simply unaware that it’s possible or acceptable to live any differently. From generation to generation, our definition of “the norm” has been stretched so greatly– enabled by credit cards, loans, mortgage deals, and more—that you could almost say it’s not really the fault of the consumer today, it’s just all we’ve ever known- consume, consume, consume. We don’t think about the impacts of purchasing an Escalade SUV, we buy it for the style, *sometimes* the functionality, and the status. Now that gas prices are through the roof and knowledge about carbon emissions and the oil crisis is spreading, we are beginning to see less of this behavior. With further education and programs to encourage sustainable living, I think America can turn our ranking around, however it goes much further than understanding what’s right for the environment, we’re going to have to learn to change our society’s excessive consumption approach to living.
    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?
    I think “going green” has become very trendy. Environmental issues had been brought to the forefront in the early 2000’s with global warming appearing in political debates and the controversial book “An Inconvenient Truth” hitting the shelves of Borders (R.I.P.). Since that time, hybrid cars have become increasingly popular, highly-rated TV shows started showing characters with cloth bags at the grocery, networks promoted Earth Day and green living, organic foods and medicines have become all the rage, and politicians in power stress sustainability through government stimulus packages and tax breaks for going green and various alternative energy research funding. I would say that many factors have been contributing to this increase for some time, but that knowledge and options are growing, so consumer sustainability practices are as well.
    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.
    I think the recession both helps and hurts the movement towards sustainability. Because consumers have to be smart with their money now more than ever, less consumption in every aspect of life is a direct result. Gone are the days of care-free spending with a market that is always on the up. Americans aren’t able to indulge in non-essentials as often or at as great of volume as they could pre-recession. With foreclosures on every corner, people are downsizing to homes or apartments they can actually afford and are not as capable of purchasing second homes or upsizing to a larger McMansion to stroke their egos. On the same token, because people can’t as easily afford non-essentials, paying an extra two dollars for a pack of peppers or an avocado when feeding a family of four is simply not an alternative many people are willing or able to use in the current recession. Heading to Sam’s Club to purchase Doritos in bulk is far more economical for a family today than picking up a bag of Kettle organic potato chips. Eating local is always a more expensive option, one that would require sacrifice in other areas for many families.
    I think that aspects of the sustainability movement will prove popular during this recession since each every day item they can reuse or DIY at-home cleaning solution they can create will save them money while helping the environment as well. Where the movement may suffer however, is in the push for eco-friendly products like pricey energy-saving light bulbs, expensive alternative textiles in clothing or home furnishings, and also as I mentioned previously, the push for organic or local foods.
    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?
    1. The biggest issue for most consumers is the idea that “Companies make false claims about the environmental impact of their products.
    2. Individual efforts are not worth it if governments and industries don’t follow suit.
    3. Other people in their country are not making an effort or doing their part.
    4. People in other countries are not doing their part.
    5. It costs too much to help.
    6. Not enough environmentally alternatives are available.
    7. Not enough information about how to help.
    8. Confused by too much information.
    9. Too inconvenient to help the environment.
    10. The seriousness of environmental problems is exaggerated.
    I am encouraged to see that the least pressing issue is that consumers think the extent of the environmental problem is exaggerated. This lends to the hope that most people are accepting sustainability as a necessary behavior now, and we just need to continue searching for more, better alternatives.

  15. JoAnn M says:

    1. N/A

    2. – housing
    – transportation
    – food
    – consumer goods

    3. 2008 was 42.4, 2009 was 43.7, and 2010 was 45.0. This is a pretty low ranking for this survey.

    4. This survey’s results for America was of no surprise to me. I’d like to think of America as a more sustainable country, but that’s just not reality… We are a country that is made up of many people that have the mind set of “keeping up with the Joneses?” Our desires seem endless. I think we are making some relatively good efforts with our technology to become more sustainable, such as electric cars, recyclable bags, and solar powered energy; BUT the mindset has not changed on how to want and use less. We all want to live in a comfortable home with the thermostat set at a constant 72, lights on in every room, in a big enough home to entertain our families and then some, with multiple nice cars sitting in the garage. We could point fingers at a number of behaviors, but what it all boils down to, is a mindset of what can I do to sustain the things we have and to train our minds to want less material things.

    5. I believe there are a few reasons why there has been a slight increase in American’s sustainable consumption since 2008. I think the most major of the reasons is because of the tight wallets many Americans have been forced to live with over the last few years. Jobs are uncertain and salaries aren’t growing like they used to. People are scared and because of it are holding on to their wallets tighter and are replacing things left. On a larger scale I believe America’s sustainable consumption score has rose, because of awareness. People are becoming more aware of what’s going on with the resources of the world. They’re demanding safer products and companies are having to comply. It’s a pressure the public has put on businesses and if other businesses want to compete with the ones that have been meeting the expectations of the public, the other will be forced to comply also.

    6. As briefly discussed in the question above I believe if the recession continues American’s sustainable consumption score will continue to improve. When wallets are tight, people want to know what they can further do to save their money. With this happening, I believe people will be more open to hearing what they can do to further sustain their personal goods. If we can get consumers on an individual scale to think “sustainable” we will in turn see a greater effect for our country.

    7. The factors the survey identified as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from charging their behaviors include:

    – “Companies make false claims about the environmental impact
    of their products.”
    -“Individual efforts are not worth it if governments and industries
    don’t take action.”
    – “People in my country are not doing their part.”
    – “People in other countries are not doing their part.”
    – “It costs too much to help.”
    – “Few environmentally friendly options are available.”
    – “Not enough information about how to help.”
    – “I am confused by too much information.”
    – “It is too inconvenient to help the environment.”
    – “The seriousness of environmental problems is exaggerated.”

  16. Samantha Morton says:

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.
    Housing, Transportation, Food, and Goods (Big-Ticket items and everyday purchases)
    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.
    We are on the bottom, as the worst offenders of not consuming sustainably. Even our highest percentage at 45% in 2010 still does not beat Canada’s lowest percentage in 2008.
    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?
    We consume SO MUCH that it is hard for our few “green” purchases to touch our overall percentage/average. We consume an abnormally high amount of goods relative to our size and population and our carbon footprint outweighs many of our developed nation peers. Additionally, our American culture breeds us to think that our consumption rate is the norm, and that the “American Dream” is that every one should be able to consume at our sky-high rate.
    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?
    Awareness, and higher GDP. Awareness could be someone seeing a documentary on food (like Supersize Me, Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., or King Korn) and allowing the shocking revelation of where our food comes from to influence their future purchases, or it could be something as simple as peer pressure to “do the right thing.” I also attribute it to people’s real or relative income increasing. With more expendable cash people are m ore willing to pay the premium for organic foods and goods, or other sustainable products.
    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.
    Wow, this directly negates my previous answer. I don’t think awareness can be directly touched by income because it is a state of mind rather than a physical, tangible entity. However, an economic recession can really hurt our progress substantially. The Greendex surveyed people about what their strongest deterrent from buying “green” was, and although they did not list cost as the top two, here in America I can see that as being the number one reason. Another point that crossed my mind is how truthful people were when filling out the survey. Maybe their conscience was a bit embarrassed that money would be such a factor so they reported another reason like green-washing. Regardless, I am a firm believer that as money gets tight, sustainable, expensive goods/services are the first to get cut from the budget. Why would a consumer purchase organic produce when that conventional bushel of apples costs several bucks less?
    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?
    Green washing was surprisingly number one, followed by “individual efforts are not worth it if governments and industries do not take action.” Then it was the blame tactic of “people in my country are not doing their part” and the even more global approach of “people in other countries are not doing their part.” Finally we get to 31% claiming the cost as a barrier. The in the bottom half were “not enough options available,” “I am confused by all this,” “too inconvenient,” and “the seriousness of environmental problems are exaggerated.”

  17. Clair McClure says:

    1. Please read the report Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey.
    2. The Greendex measured consumer’s behavior in sixty five areas which were related to housing, transportations, food, and consumer goods.
    3. Since the start of this survey in 2008, American’s have ranked as the least sustainable in consumer’s behavior. While the average score for America has slightly increased over the three years from 42.4 in 2008 to 45.0 in 2010, it still remains the least sustainable.
    4. As America has been a successful country long before the movement of sustainable consumption was a subject of interest it stands to reason that in a sense many Americans are quite stuck in their ways and habits on a personal level. Many Americans as the Greendex noted are among the least likely to take public transportation. We like our vehicles and it can be noted in the insane and cutting edge car commercials that we see everyday on TV. Americans do not necessarily face issues of overcrowding and traffic like countries such as India, China, and Japan are accustomed to. In these countries it makes more sense to rely on public transport or walking as this is probably faster than trying to maneuver a car to and from work. As well as this there were previously not such stringent regulations in America on sustainable building practices and requirements of products to meet certain criteria. Since America is such a developed country in relation to the leaders in the Greendex it seems we are almost playing catch up to implement sustainable consumption patterns. Those countries classified as currently developing are getting in on the ground floor of incorporating sustainable habits and regulations into their daily lives. Americans are still trying to figure out how to slowly change our routines to meet a level of sustainability because for so long we have headed in one direction, yet now a spotlight has been put on the importance of making smarter, healthier, and more sustainable choices.
    5. One main point is that Americans are much more aware of the concept of sustainability, social responsibility, and the impact each person is having on the environment. The amount of education and resources pertaining to such subjects is increasing and most likely saw a greater following and understanding from American consumers over the three years this survey was in place. As people become more aware, changes are made to become more sustainable. Along with this there were many government initiatives and incentives put in place to foster Americans to choose sustainable consumptions. There were tax incentives for making improvements to ones home to make it more sustainable and eco-friendly. There is a movement towards buying locally grown foods and foods which are in season as well as seeking out organic options. While America is most definitely still playing catch up in the area of sustainable consumption as they become more aware I believe daily habits will change on the Greendex score will hopefully improve.
    6. I feel the economic recession could cause both an increase and a decrease in Americans choice towards sustainable choices. On one hand people will probably not be in a position to buy new things as often as in past years. Americans as a whole are not in a position to purchase new cars, new clothes, and luxury items. Many are in the position of maintaining day to day. So almost by default there may be a move towards personally becoming more sustainable in consumption choices. Unfortunately many things which fall under sustainability can be expensive. Buying local organic foods is not the cheapest option for buying food. Along with this, eco-friendly improvements to one’s home is not cheap and would most likely be an idea which would fall way down on one’s list in the face of economic hardships. Due to the recession it may take some time for sustainable practices to take effect, but this is a critical time for educating Americans even more on the importance of choosing sustainable options. In this way when the times begin to turn towards a better economic situation, Americans may be more apt to make the sustainable changes which usually require a greater expense.
    7. There were ten main points which people identified with as reasons to be discouraged from choosing sustainable consumption. The most prevalent were “Companies make false claims about their products environmental impacts,” “If the government and industries aren’t taking action what is my individual action going to do?”, along with people in my country and in other countries are not doing their part. Cost and the exaggeration of how serious the subject of sustainability actually is were also among the statements individuals identified with in regards to sustainability.

  18. Briana Martinez says:

    2. The four areas examined were as follows: housing, food, transportation, and consumer goods
    3. American sad to say are at the bottom of the pact in the overall rankings according to the survey
    4. I think Americans have this position for many reasons. One reason I feel is that Americans overall do no really understand what sustainable consumption is or feel as if it is something they need to worry about or put in action their lifestyle. I also think Americans are on the bottom of the list because as the article says we are an industrialized nation. It is far easier to put sustainable lifestyle habits in place when you are just building an economy to the level of industrialized in comparison to trying to teach an old dog new trick and that is what industrialized nation are when it comes to sustainable consumption; they are old dogs. America also is in a housing dilemma where many Americans are doing everything they can to keep their house therefore the least of their concerns is how I can make my house more sustainable. The economy crisis has pushed Americans to just find a way to make it work not to make it work better.
    5. I do think the slight increase in American sustainable consumption could be due to prevalence of the energy crisis, gas crisis, etc. Because these are things where Americans can see an instant direct impact (gas prices rising, energy bills steadily increasing), I do think Americans are starting to be more cautious of the big technology purchases such as looking at hybrid cars, or energy efficient major appliances.
    6. I think it will increase awareness. The economic recession has caused Americans to ponder what has gone wrong and you see it quite evidently in the government talks of energy, green movement, reusable tote bags. I almost feel like this recession has causes industrialized America to be an emerging American in the since that it has given up a chance and opportunity when we are at the bottom to analyze a situation and build a ladder out of it. I also think it is a time that forced many American to look at how they spend their money therefore when for example a major repair is needed in the house instead of just replacing it they are looking at alternatives to make it better all-around to get the most bang for their buck
    7. The top two reasons were fraudulent claims about the environmental impact of a company’s product and individual efforts are vain if company and government do nothing. Other reasons cited were cost, lack of information, confusion, and feeling of exaggeration about the seriousness of the problem

  19. Aubrey says:

    2. Housing, transportation, food, goods(everyday goods and big ticket items)
    3. Americans ranked consistently low in terms of the sustainability of their consumptive behavior in all all rankings and overall rankings.
    4.I think there are many reasons why Americans ranked low. First of all, the pattern shows that developed nations have lower over-all rankings of sustainable behavior. Then you have to ask why? What is it about developed nations which cause this trend? When a nation is “developed” it’s growing economically. This means more over-all production and therefore more consumption. Companies and cooperations are being established and putting out a product. This most likely takes the use of some energy which was not being used before on a large scale. When we produce more, naturally we consume more. It is this idea of growth and its cyclical; because when we make and consume more we have more money circulated, our world and infrastructure change. More building, more industrialization, which means more energy use and waste.This is of course, one simplistic explanation. Another reason the article notes which I found interesting is the consumption of beef. The reasoning could be partially due to religious beliefs in countries that are prominently hindu for example, but I think it is actually also a product of this industrialization, especially in the United States. We, as americans have a made a big business out of raising cows for beef, and also other animals. The idea of this cow in a pasture is gone and has been replaced with “meat factories” as a product of the United States being an industrial nation. So, while this idea of consuming beef being could be looked at as a separate factor in the low sustainability score, I think in the end it is still an effect of being an industrial nation.
    One more factor I will discuss is the United States(and other industrialized nations of course) reliance on cars. We tend not to want to be inconvenienced by public transportation. I think this has a lot to do with the expansiveness of the country and the way we have set up our cities. Generally in America we are more spread out from city to city which means less efficiency in public transportation. Think about it, if you have to get on a bus thats going into the city 30 minutes away, theres more margin for time constraints the further you travel. it simply does not make sense or fit into our lifestyles unless we already live in a city where public transportation makes sense because of the layout of the city. Fixing this problem seems multitiered and complicated. We want out government to set up ways a great public transpiration system, but we don’t support it by going out of the way to use it. No system can sustain itself if there’s not demand for it.
    These are among some of the reasons why I think Americans score consistently low in terms of the sustainability of their consumptive behavior, and as I have said, I think all of these reasons can be tied down into one main cause in the end: being industrialized means we work for profit. Working for profit means most people will do what they have to do to survive and be successful even if we’re (pardon my french) shitting on the environment in the process.
    5. I think there has been a slight increase in American sustainable consumption because of two things:
    a) Many times it costs less to to sustainable especially in housing. If we have efficient toilets, shower heads, turn off lights to use less power, etc , we will see that reflected in a lower bill at the end of the month. that is a direct benefit on a personal level.
    b)The other reason I think is that because we as americans consume on such a large level, we are drawing a lot of negative attention globally. This is causing news to spread more quickly. It is pretty much common knowledge these days that we use way too much. We are also seeing the negative effects of that. (example: we’re all getting fat). This idea is circulating and it is natural that the more people know about a subject, the more they will feel responsible and want to change it. so, basically my second reason is environmental awareness just as the article cites.
    6.I think the recession has and is increasing Americans awareness of sustainable consumption. My reasoning behind this is that we are all a little more concerned with saving a buck. How do we do that? As stated above it is to our financial benefit to re-use what we already have, or to consume less to see bills go down. In times of economic wealth we are all happy to have a grand old time and consume on a higher level. During this recession we have less to work with, we need to stretch our dollar. This means we have to be thrifty. Luckily, we can get an ego boost by saying were helping the environment in the process.
    7.There are many reasons that the survey said we are discouraged from changing our behaviors. The two main reasons were a)companies make false claims, and b) individual efforts are not worth it if the government/ industries do not take action. It is hard for us to see the fruits of our labor or feel like our extra effort is worth it unless there is a wide-scale collective advantage. We look to the government and corporations to be the tangible product of our work. For example, we identify a problem and decide we want to give our tax dollars to
    fixing it. If the government decides to take the money and do something else and we never see a positive change, why would we be inclined to continue towards the effort?

  20. Laney Haag says:

    2. The four main areas of consumption behavior are Housing, Transportation, Food, and Goods.
    3. America ranks as the least sustainable country in “Overall Ratings” out of all 17 countries from 2008-2010.
    4. In terms of housing consumption, the majority of American homes have air conditioning and heating units. These units run off of nonrenewable sources, therefore this is going to increase our consumption level. As for transportation, the Greendex report states that America is one of three countries whose consumers are least likely to use public transportation as well as least likely to walk or ride a bike to the location. This clearly is not going to help our consumption level either. Drinking bottled water is a part of food consumption. With the amount of plastic bottle waters you see everyday I can imagine this lowers America’s score.
    5. I think there has been a slight improvement to America’s Greendex score because the green movement has been in the media so frequently and is seen as somewhat“cool”. Celebrities have endorsed green products, driving battery-operated cars or wearing organic clothing, and taken part in the movement. I also think the amount of education geared towards sustainability has increased. I still think we have a LONG way to go.
    6. I don’t think the current economic recession will necessarily increase or decrease American’s awareness of sustainable consumption. I do think the recession will increase the amount of consumption in America. Green products are almost always more expensive than generic versions of the same product. With the high unemployment rates, I find it hard to believe people are going to go to Walmart and buy a Green cleaning product that’s $3 more than the Great Value version of the same product when they are already tight on money.
    7. The survey identified the following factors as reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors: Companies make false claims about the environmental impact of their products, AKA Greenwashing, people around me are not doing their part, it costs too much, few environmentally options are available, and not enough information or too much information about how to help.

  21. cam gordon says:

    1. Read the report Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey.

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.

    Housing, food, transportation and consumer goods.

    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.

    Americans are at the lowest end of this list with 42.4, 43.7, and 45% in 2008-2010 respectively.

    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?

    Industrialized and developed nations trended lower scores than less developed and newly industrializing countries overall. The fact that America has one of the most consumer rich economies in the world reduces our “Overall Rankings” as a matter of fact. Using cars, electronics, air-conditioning, and even eating beef significantly lower our “greendex” especially in comparison to countries which have few if any of these amenities. Our economy has strong foundations in consumption which predate current sustainability trends, making it more difficult to switch over to more sustainable methods than currently developing nations.

    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?
    I believe that most Americans would be in favor of sustainable consumption given the proper framing of the issue. This concept is not unbeknownst to most Americans, however, stumbling blocks include both incentivising companies and raising awareness to promote sustainable consumptive behavior. Also, notice the spread in the ten lowest scoring countries (all developed) is about five percent, not an enormous difference in the great scheme of things.

    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.

    Firstly, how extensive is this “current economic recession”? Many have different opinions here; given any type of “recession” consumption as a general rule decreases universally. This applies to all types of consumption whether sustainable or not. To address whether the awareness of sustainable consumption would increase or decrease, I think that is mostly independent of any current economic trends. Sustainability is something most people are aware of these days, and the spread of that knowledge is not likely to be stopped by anything, save for maybe certain corporations not switching to and marketing more sustainable products in lieu of the “recession”. The bottom line is that awareness of sustainable consumption is on the rise, and is not going to decrease in the current “age of information”. After all, which country do you think reads the most national geographic articles?

    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?

    False claims about the environmental impact of certain products, individual actions not being worth it if government and industries don’t take action were the biggest two factors. Other more trivial factors included blaming others for their own behavior, the cost of helping out, lack of green options and information, too much information, lack of convenience, and exaggerated claims the seriousness of environmental issues.

  22. ashley Walker says:

    1. Please read the report Greendex 2010: Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey.
    read the article

    2. Please identify from the article the four main areas of consumption behavior the survey examined.
    housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods

    3. Identify where Americans are on the “Overall Rankings” from the survey.
    “Overall Rankings” for consumers in America in 2008 was 42.4. In 2009 was 43.7, and in 2010 was 45.0. Overall, American’s rank the lowest on the sustainability survey.

    4. Why do you think Americans have this position on the “Overall Rankings” ? Please explain what reasons you think Americans might fall low on the list of sustainable consumption?
    I feel like we are the lowest because we are a culture that consumes and waste. Because America in the past was so wealthy we just consumed without thinking about the future and now that we are in trouble and running out of resources we are now looking for ways to be sustainable. But since the US was not originally use to consuming sustainably we are having a hard time having to transition into doing so.

    5. Why do you think there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption since 2008?
    I believe there has been a slight increase in Americans sustainable consumption because of the threat of running out of resources. I do believe if this was not a threat then people would still be consuming uncontrollably. Also people don’t have money like in the past. people are losing there jobs so people are looking for ways to consume but do it in a more cost efficient way.

    6. Do you think the current economic recession will increase or decrease Americans awareness of sustainable consumption? Please explain and show critical thought.
    It will increase Americans awareness of sustainable consumption. like I said in a previous answer people are not making as much money or they are not making money at all so it sort of forces people to change there consuming behaviors in order to survive. It no longer becomes something that is just done it is becoming something that people need for survival.

    7. What factors did the survey identify as the reasons consumers are “discouraged” from changing their behaviors?
    The top two reasons were fraudulent claims about how a company’s product will impact the environment or have an effect on the environment and if the government does nothing to encourage people to change their consuming behaviors then the individuals conscious choice to change his or her consuming habits are in vain. Other reasons were cost and a lack of information

  23. 2. The four main areas on consumption examined in the article were housing, transportation, foods, and consumer goods.
    3. America was listed as the least sustainable consumer in 2008. And we are still at the bottom.
    4. There are many plausible reasons as to why America is ranked so low in sustainable consumption. Americans use a lot of energy and resources. We especially use a lot considering that are population is not as high as many other countries around the world. American’s use air conditioning in most places, which most European nations do not do. Americans do not show much concern for throwing out large amounts of food that would not be disposed of in other, less fortunate countries. Also, most Americans have a car. Some households have multiple cars/vehicles. In other nations there are far fewer cars and people walk, bike, or use public transportation more often.
    5. I think that the sustainable consumption of America has gone up a bit since 2008 because of the increasing awareness or how much Americans use and waste and the energy and resource crisis the world is in. Gas shortages and news about running out of natural resources and depleting the Earth have made people a little more aware of their actions and Americans have started making more of an effort not to waste and pollute as much.
    6. I think the current recession in America will increase consumers awareness. Many Americans are trying to save money where they can in this economy and making more conscious, sustainable choices can aid in this. Using less energy, water, gas, etc saves money for the individual, but it also benefits the environment and society and slows the process of rapidly depleting energy.
    7. Reasons listed in the article for why people are discouraged from changing their behaviors include:
    – “Companies make false claims about the environmental impact of their products.”
    -“Individual efforts are not worth it if governments and industries don’t take action.”
    – “People in my country are not doing their part.”
    – “People in other countries are not doing their part.”
    – “It costs too much to help.”
    – “Few environmentally friendly options are available.”
    – “Not enough information about how to help.”
    – “I am confused by too much information.”
    – “It is too inconvenient to help the environment.”
    – “The seriousness of environmental problems is exaggerated.”
    People seem to be unsure about how to decipher the information and figure out what to change, or they do not want or feel the need to change their behaviors

  24. Kelsey Savell says:

    The four main areas surveyed were food, housing, transportation, and goods.

    Americans rank lowest on the Greendex score compared to the other countries.

    Americans are very hesitant to use public transportation and carpool compared to other countries. We also have less sustainable homes than most other people. Excessive use of air conditioning and heat probably contributes to this characteristic. And mostly, Americans’ goods consumption habits are very unsustainable. We buy brand new products frequently and are largely unconcerned about how they are packaged or what they are made from.

    I think that environmental issues are increasingly being recognized in the public sphere, and this probably contributes to the increase in score. Americans are more aware of the environment and therefore more likely to make sustainable decisions. I also think rampant greenwashing plays a role in the increase. Although industry may not produce truly sustainable products and Americans’ awareness of this may brew cynicism, the use of green marketing by industry promotes green consumption and endorses environmental awareness.

    I think Americans will be less likely to pay premiums for environmentally friendly products during a recession. Although they will likely remain aware of sustainable consumption and the options available to them, I think they will be less likely to take sustainable action if it comes for a higher personal price. When people have more expendable income, they will be more willing to spend that money on the environment. But if the average consumer is feeling pressure to just “get by” and struggles to obtain the basic items they need to live, they will likely see paying a high price for a more sustainable product as sacrificing purchasing another product they need.

    The largest contributing factor to the discouragement of sustainable consumption is that companies make false claims about the environmental impact of their products. I completely concur with this finding, and am excited to begin my project because of it. I think that if consumers are educated on how to distinguish false claims from true ones then they will be more likely to make sustainable purchasing decisions. The second most discouraging factor was “individual efforts are not worth it if governments and industries don’t take action.” Although I definitely see how my personal decisions can impact the environment, I tend to agree that big business and the government need to take more action (e.g. providing incentives and discentives to consumers who purchase green/un-green products). I am pleased that the majority of respondents did not believe that environmental problems are exaggerated. I think this too is a result of environmental issues increasingly being recognized in the public sphere.

    As a side note, I am confused on how consuming beef, fish, and seafood is a sustainable behavior. I thought food processing is one of the most wasteful practices in America?

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