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U.S. consumers the least 'green', survey says

Shoppers in Brazil, India, and China are the most ecologically aware, while Americans appear in the least flattering light in a National Geographic survey.

U.S. consumers have the least "green" habits in the world in terms of energy use, transportation, travel, and goods, according to National Geographic and polling firm GlobeScan.

Blame the American appetite for large, two-car, gadget-packed homes located far from work, along with a general disregard for conservation and eco-friendly products, the report says.

The Greendex results, released Wednesday, are based on online surveys taken earlier this year examining the shopping habits and attitudes of 14,000 consumers in 14 countries.

The Greendex map paints developing nations a darker shade of green.
The Greendex map paints developing nations a darker shade of green. National Geographic

Among Americans' un-green daily habits, 59 percent said they drive alone, and a trifling 5 percent use public transportation. Seventy-eight percent eat beef weekly, and only 5 percent attempt to reduce the use of fresh water. U.S. shoppers were also far more likely than others to own multiple new TVs, PCs, and energy-hogging household appliances.

Canadian and French consumers didn't appear much to be better than those in the United States.

People in developing nations, by contrast, were more likely to live in smaller homes, use less polluting modes of transportation, repair rather than discard broken goods, and seek "green" products.

They were more likely to express worry that climate change will negatively affect their lifestyles. Only 12 percent of Americans said ecological woes are affecting their health.

GlobeScan rated Brazilian, Indian, and Chinese consumers as the most "green."

Nearly one-third of Brazilians reported buying "green" products regularly and 41 percent said they try to reduce their use of fresh water. Their overall score tied with that of Indians, whose low meat consumption and willingness to pay more for energy-conserving products helped to earn points.

The study also pitted national sustainability trends from the Economist Intelligence Unit, finding that the more new cars were purchased in a country, the lower its consumers ranked on eco-friendly transportation. Per capita wealth and increased consumption overall, both expected to increase as developing nations expand, were also tied together.

The Greendex Web site offers a quiz and calculator for users to measure their personal shade of green.