Poll finds big support for 'going green'

Posted: 5 November 2007

A British Survey of Public Attitudes and Behaviour toward the Environment has found that most people believe that being 'green' is now the socially acceptable norm rather being an alternative lifestyle.

The survey, carried out for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), found that guilt about harming the environment is the main motivation for being environmentally friendly. Of the 3,600 people in England surveyed, when asked about waste 87 per cent said they give away things they no longer want to charity shops or friends and family, and 78 per cent said they sometimes reuse empty bottles, jars, envelopes and paper. Many respondents agreed they do try to influence others to be more environmentally friendly, with a third saying they talk to friends and family about things they can do to change their behaviour.

There were particularly strong views that humans are severely abusing the environment, and that man's interference with nature may produce disastrous consequences.

'Not too late'

Much concern was expressed about changes to the countryside and the loss of biodiversity, and about the finite nature of the Earth's resources. However, there was widespread optimism that it was not too late to do something about climate change and that it would be possible to overcome the world's environmental problems.

Environment Minister Joan Ruddock said, "The most encouraging finding in this survey is the majority of people believing that its up to individuals to accept responsibility by making lifestyle changes. This is vitally important as 40 percent of climate change emissions come from our actions as individuals."

"Government is determined to make it possible for people to choose greener lifestyles and to provide advice and encouragement through our Act on CO2 campaign," Ruddock said.

Four in 10 people said they knew a lot about environmental issues. Some issues were better known than others. At least six in 10 said they knew a lot or a fair amount about global warming and climate change, and over half knew a lot or a fair amount about carbon dioxide emissions.

However, over half knew nothing about the terms carbon footprint or carbon off-setting.

The survey also covered modes of transport for getting to work or school, or going shopping. Overall, for journeys of one mile or less, 45 per cent drove, six per cent took public transport and 46 per cent walked or cycled.

For journeys of three miles or less, 58 percent drove, nine percent took public transport and 28 percent walked or cycled.