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A new survey finds half of Canadians don't "feel guilty" about being environmentally unfriendly -- but three quarters want companies to be environmentally responsible.

Half don't feel guilty about environmental unfriendliness

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 6:55 AM - If you don’t feel guilty about doing something environmentally unfriendly on Earth Day Wednesday, you’re not alone: Neither do half of your fellow Canadians.

Fifty-three per cent of Canadians agree they'd feel guilty, and only 11 per cent say they'd strongly agree. Those figures are more or less the same as our American neighbours and well below the global average of 63 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

That’s the figure in a new global survey of 28,000 people in 23 countries, released this week by German research firm GfK.

On that scale, Canada is about middle of the pack compared to other countries.

Canada is behind some European countries such as France (56 per cent feel guilty), Spain (60 per cent) and Italy (73 per cent).

But Angelo Pierro, the managing director of GfK Canada, says there’s come encouraging trends in that data.

“I know when you compare it to the rest of the world it seems low, but in fact it's quite high when you compare it to the other Western developed countries," Pierro told The Weather Network.

For example, we’re ahead of Belgium (47 per cent feel guilty), the U.K. (46 per cent) and Germany (46 per cent). Sweden is dead last at 37 per cent.

Something else that stands out: Respondents in developing nations such as India (85 per cent), Indonesia (83 per cent) and Brazil (75 per cent) report feeling guilty about being environmentally unfriendly. These rates far outstrip those in Europe and North America.

Those countries also crowd the upper echelons when it comes to believing brands and companies need to be environmentally responsible.

This is likely because those countries, many with infrastructure and population growth issues, are concerned about how corporations that set up there treat host economies and the environment, Pierro says

“I think they're really sensitive to globalization, what's happening, and how their countries are fitting into that," he said.

As for Canada, almost three quarters of those surveyed (73 per cent) feel companies and brands should be environmentally responsible. That’s slightly below the global average, but not by much, and it's still much higher than other in developed countries such as the U.K. (70 per cent), Australia (66 per cent), the U.S. (66 per cent) and Japan (58 per cent).

“I think it speaks to the emphasis that these markets are placing on how we use resources,” Pierro says. “From a consumer's point of view, Canadians are definitely more sensitive around the use of resources compared to some of the other, more developed countries.”

When it comes to buying products that appeal to individual values, around 55 per cent of Canadians told GfK that was how they shopped; again, well behind less developed countries.

As with the “feeling guilty” question, that's still more than half of Canadians, and Pierro notes in Canada, as around the world, concerns over environmental friendliness have really penetrated younger generations.

“Given that more than 50 per cent of [them] are saying these are issues for them as well, I think that's something worth calling out,” he says. “If you think of consumerism and the way products are going, how manufacturers and organizations appeal to this group knowing this is something that's front and centre for them is something to consider.”

GfK’s survey was conducted using either online or face-to-face interviews in the summer of 2014, and the company says it is 95 per cent confident in the results. It was released on Monday. 


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