A new global analysis released by the National Geographic Society and GlobeScan finds that concern about environmental problems has increased in most countries surveyed, and that more people now expect global warming will negatively affect them during their lifetime than in 2012. Despite this, National Geographic’s Greendex, a comprehensive measure of consumer behavior in 65 areas related to housing, transportation, food and consumer goods, shows that sustainable consumer behavior has only grown slowly. 


Results of the 2014 Greendex, a collaboration between National Geographic and global research consultancy GlobeScan, were released today in Boston at the Sustainable Brands New Metrics ’14. Greendex 2014 surveyed 18,000 consumers in 18 countries and is the fifth iteration of the survey, which was first fielded in 2008.

Among the top findings in 2014:

Environmental concern has increased since 2012: Sixty-one percent of consumers globally now say they are very concerned about environmental problems compared with 56 percent in 2012. Compared to the study’s 2008 baseline, sustainable consumer behavior has increased in nearly every country tracked since the first survey, suggesting consumer behavior across the world is improving, albeit slowly.

Environmentally friendly behavior has increased in nine of the 17 countries that were surveyed in 2012: Argentina, Australia, Hungary, India, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, South Korea and Great Britain. However,sustainable behavior decreased since 2012 among consumers in five countries: Canada, China, Germany, Japan and the United States.

Top-scoring consumers of the 2014 Greendex study are in the developing economies of India and China, followed by consumers in South Korea, Brazil and Argentina. Indian and Chinese consumers also scored highest in 2012.

U.S. consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the Greendex study in 2008.

More and more consumers are embracing local and organic foods and lightening their environmental footprint in the food category. Nearly all consumers believe that we need to change the way we produce and consume food in order to feed a growing population, and many say it is very important to know how and where their food is produced. Yet, relatively few people report that they do.

Consumers are anxious about climate change: Fifty-one percent across the 18 countries surveyed in 2014 believe that global warming will negatively affect their own lives, up in seven surveyed countries from 2012 and down in none.

Read more about the survey here.