WWF survey reveals major reasons for non-green behaviour among big city Chinese netizens



Posted on 29 August 2011
Beijing residents pledge to reduce their plastic bag usage at the WWF initiated "20 ways to 20%" energy saving campaign event. On display are bags made from recycled dairy cartons to demonstrate creative ways to reuse and recycle. Behind them is a banner saying: "Reduce plastic bag use to save energy."
© WWF-ChinaEnlarge
BEIJING, August 24, 2011 – A new WWF survey reveals major roadblocks to environmental behaviour in China: expense of environmental products and services, and lack of environmental thought.

Given a choice of six common reasons why people may behave non-environmentally, 24% of survey respondents report a belief that non-environmental products and services cost less as the primary reason for their non-environmental behaviour; 21% blame a lack of environmental consciousness.

These are the key findings of the WWF China Environmental Attitude and Behaviour Survey, commissioned by WWF and conducted online by market research firm Ipsos, to examine the environmental attitudes and behaviours among first- through third-tier city Internet users in China. The sample consisted of 1,600 individuals, 15-55 years of age, 50% male / 50% female, 68% with a bachelor’s degree or above, from ten cities nationwide (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Xi’an, Dalian, and Suzhou).

Other key findings of the survey include:
  • 92% of respondents pay “some” to “great” attention to environmental campaigns and activities
  • 27% of respondents lean toward environmental protection as a government issue rather than an individual issue
Taken together, these findings indicate that lack of environmental consciousness among respondents is not based on lack of mental awareness, but lack of mental consideration. They are aware of environmental efforts in society, but despite this awareness, many simply do not elevate environmental protection into a consideration factor in their decision-making.

General explanations include respondents not assigning enough importance to environmental protection. The survey suggests a belief that environmental protection is an exclusive government concern as another cause.

“Especially in this day and age, environmental protection is vital. WWF encourages everyone to consider the environment in their decision-making, and for environmental action to start with you,” said Jing Hui, director of communications, WWF-China.

"Further, for the public, environmental products and services are often more expensive, and that is an obstacle to environmental behaviour. We need the support of government and corporations in technological innovation and policy to reduce production costs and use costs associated with environmental products. In protecting the environment, the contributions of government, business, and individuals are invaluable.”

Survey results

Why might you behave non-environmentally? Select one.
  • Non-environmental products and services cost less (24%)
  • Lack of environmental consciousness (21%)
  • Non-environmental products and services are more convenient to obtain (19%)
  • Non-environmental products and services bring me greater convenience in life (17%)
  • To fulfil my own likes and interests (14%)
  • To show off my achievement level / social status in life (6%)

Where have you made environmental efforts in your everyday life in the past six months? Where do you plan to make environmental efforts in your everyday life in the next six months? Select all applicable.
  • Water conservation (past six months, 88%; next six months, 83%)
  • Electricity conservation (84%, 80%)
  • Use of energy-efficient appliances (74%, 75%)
  • Recycling (69%, 70%)
  • Waste sorting (62%, 71%)
  • Use of public transportation (63%, 69%)
  • Not using disposable tableware (59%, 69%)
  • Forest protection (40%, 48%)
  • Wildlife protection (37%, 46%)

How much do you agree/disagree with each statement? Select one for each statement (completely disagree, somewhat disagree, neither agree nor disagree, somewhat agree, completely agree).
  • I start with my own small contributions to live a low carbon, environmental life (1%, 2%, 11%, 35%, 52%)
  • Compared with other products and services, I pay greater attention to environmental/sustainable products and services (1%, 3%, 17%, 42%, 37%)
  • I’m a very environmentally conscious person, and proud of it (1%, 4%, 18%, 42%, 35%)
  • I’m actively involved in environmental campaigns and activities (1%, 6%, 23%, 40%, 30%)
  • I frequently share environmental knowledge and information with friends (1%, 6%, 24%, 41%, 28%)
  • If I am concerned about environmental protection in every aspect of my life, I’ll have to spend a lot of money (12%, 23%, 31%, 23%, 11%)
  • Changing my lifestyle for environmental protection is difficult (22%, 34%, 20%, 17%, 8%)
  • Environmental protection is a government issue, not an individual issue (38%, 19%, 15%, 16%, 11%)

How much attention do you pay to environmental campaigns and activities? Select one.
  • I pay great attention; I frequently search for / pay attention to news and information about environmental campaigns and activities (34%)
  • I pay some attention; I sometimes search for / pay attention to news and information about environmental campaigns and activities (58%)
  • I pay little attention; I hardly ever search for / pay attention to news and information about environmental campaigns and activities (8%)
  • I pay no attention at all to environmental campaigns and activities (1%)

What are effective ways to get you to join environmental campaigns and activities? Select all applicable.
  • Friends recommend (66%)
  • Solicitation by environmental protection organizations (55%)
  • Solicitation by/via the media (51%)

What are your goals in joining an environmental campaign or activity? Select all applicable.
  • To contribute to the world (92%)
  • To learn new knowledge (65%)
  • To make friends, increase my social circle (57%)
  • To exercise my abilities (49%)

About the survey
For results based on the total sample, one can say with 90% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of surveys.

Survey figures may not add to 100% due to rounding.


About Ipsos
Founded in Paris, France, in 1975 and publicly-listed in 1999, Ipsos is the only independent research company that is controlled and managed by research professionals. Ipsos is a leading global research company focusing on six core specializations: Advertising, Marketing, Media, Opinion and Customer Relationship Management research, and Data Collection and Delivery. With offices in 67 countries, Ipsos conducts research in more than 100 countries. Entering China in 2000, Ipsos now ranks among the largest survey-based market research companies in China. Ipsos in Greater China has set up branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Taipei, and is now home to more than 1000 professionals.
Beijing residents pledge to reduce their plastic bag usage at the WWF initiated "20 ways to 20%" energy saving campaign event. On display are bags made from recycled dairy cartons to demonstrate creative ways to reuse and recycle. Behind them is a banner saying: "Reduce plastic bag use to save energy."
© WWF-China Enlarge