Fewer Canadians worried about environment
August 18, 2011
Source: Vit Wagner, The Star
The Perleys want to be green, but like a growing number of Canadians, the two-income family is finding that pocketbook priorities come first.
"We try to buy eco-friendly, but not if it gets too expensive," said David Perley, emerging from a Canadian Tire store Wednesday with his wife Melanie and two sons. "With camping equipment, for instance, we'd probably opt to the cheaper stuff, otherwise we wouldn't be able to afford it."
A new poll shows that for the first time in three years, the environment does not rank among the top five issues for Canadians.
In its latest Consumerology Report, advertising agency Bensimon Byrne reported Wednesday that only 49 per cent of the poll's respondents consider the environment to be "very important," a decline of 11 percentage points since 2008, dropping the environment from third to ninth on the list of priority issues.
Instead, Canadians are focused on issues such as health care, gas prices and adequate pensions.
Fifty-three per cent said the state of the economy was very important to them, up from 50 per cent in 2008. And 53 per cent also said ethics in politics was a priority, up by two percentage points.
"It's a pretty astonishing shift in 36 months, considering how much the environment has been part of the narrative for the past few years," said Jack Bensimon, president of Bensimon Byrne. "It gives you a sense of how significantly the economy's weakness has impacted the average Canadian."
The poll found that only 23 per cent of Canadians are "very motivated" to modify their behaviour in a way that might benefit the environment, down from 30 per cent three years ago.
The decline was most pronounced among women, 32 per cent of whom said they were "very concerned" about the environment, compared with 46 per cent in 2008. Only 27 per cent of all Canadians called themselves "very concerned."
The Perleys, who have started buying more produce at the Leslieville Farmers' Market, are among the 53 per cent of Canadians who have come to appreciate the benefits of buying locally grown food.
"It's better because then you know food is local and hasn't travelled as far," Melanie said.
The report found Canadians were most interested in buying products with less packaging (52 per cent), and those that are recyclable (52 per cent) or reusable (49 per cent), and were least likely to be swayed by companies that bought carbon-offset credits (19 per cent).
Recycling retained strong support, with 71 per cent saying it benefits the environment and 69 per cent saying they almost always recycle.
The poll involved 1,500 Canadians and included online discussion groups held between May 25 and 27, as well as a survey conducted between June 29 and July 10.
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