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Survey: Why We’re Suffering 'Green Fatigue'

November 2009

Survey: Eco Overload - Why We’re Suffering ‘Green Fatigue’

A survey of over 990 New Zealanders has found that we’re suffering ‘green fatigue’, as we continue to get hit by a mix of dire predictions, guilt-powered consumer warnings, and a stream of well-meaning advice on how to better conduct our lives.

The survey – conducted exclusively for the latest issue of New Zealand READER’S DIGEST – examines why we still care about the planet, but are rebelling against the notion of carrying the whole thing on our own shoulders.

“We know global warming is a problem,” the survey report notes. “But incessantly remind us that we’ll ruin a perfectly good planet if we don’t half-flush, ride to work, or recycle and – guess what – there’s a real danger we’ll just zone out.”


* 97% of us say we’re doing our bit for the planet, but only 3% describe our everyday behaviour as “totally committed”.

* 95% of us accept plastic bags and 23% get a rebellious thrill about saying yes to plastic.

* 89% of us regularly wallow in long showers and just 18% feel bad about showering for more than four minutes.

* 79% of us drive the car when we could have taken a bus, train or walked and 87% can drive a petrol-guzzling car without experiencing the slightest sense of guilt.

* 13% feel guilty using all the hotel towels (but do it anyway); 20% feel guilty using full-flush instead of half-flush; 24% regret tossing their rubbish into the wrong bins; 17% feel guilty leaving lights on when they’re out.

* More than two thirds of us resent having to sort our rubbish for recycling.

* Men seem to care less about committing green sins than women. Men also feel more annoyed, rebellious or just don’t care about their bad green habits.

* As part of the survey report, a leading advertising executive describes Green as a ‘damaged brand’. The colour green is now instantly recognised as eco-friendly, but media saturation has caused the message to lose potency and gain what he describes as ‘green fatigue’

* The report profiles New Zealanders and Australians looking to make a difference, and the reasons many of us give for being ‘browned off’ by perpetual green guilt and eco-chores. One respondent used the following description, to explain what irks her about the green movement: “I’d like not to be made to feel guilty for making my life easier.”


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