A sweeping new survey of Canadian environmental habits reveals most Canadians aren’t as green as they think they are.

 

The second annual Green Gap Index highlights striking differences between what we say we do, and how we actually behave.

 

It also concludes that this perception gap is growing.

 

“Canadians have a great desire to be green, but they are struggling,” says Nick Cowling, vice-president of Optimum Public Relations, which co-conducted the survey.

 

“They are looking for more guidance from the corporations, brands, government and employers.”


• See survey results at www.summerhillgroup.ca/greengap/2010May31_Green_Gap_Index.pdf


Consumer habits

Where we’re wrong: “Seven out of 10 Canadians said they use a reusable drinking container all or most of the time,” notes Nick Cowling, VP at Optimum Public Relations, which was involved with Summerhill in conducting the survey. “And yet, if you’re in line at the Starbucks or Tim Hortons, no one’s holding one.”


How we can improve: Reusable cups, naturally. Also, the survey suggests most people will donate clothing or other things, but few will buy gently used goods.


Energy use

Where we’re wrong: A smaller gap here. The survey says Canadians have greater awareness of energy efficiency, but only participate in actions that do not require any real change or effort in their existing behaviours.


How we can improve: Cowling says we’re already doing it. “Almost three-quarters of Canadians said they are using less energy than they did last year,” he notes. “I think that’s because this is an area that has a big effect on their wallets. Energy efficiency has been the fastest transition — because people can save money.”


Fuel efficiency

Where we’re wrong: The survey says 85 per cent of Canadian drivers believe they are driving fuel-efficient cars — ones that burn no more than 8.3 litres of gasoline per 100 kilometres.
The problem? There simply aren’t that many fuel-efficient vehicles on our roads, proving most are misinformed about their fuel use.


How we can improve: “About 50 per cent are opting for public transportation instead of driving, and it’s a much younger demographic,” Cowling says. Typically, he says, “Canadians don’t tend to look at things that are a bit more of a financial stretch, like buying carbon offsets when you do air travel.


“Twelve per cent, or less, consider it,” he notes.