When consumers make decisions that affects the environment they rarely are fully aware of the impact of these decisions. It is believed that is a role for government to influence consumers’ decision-making and promote education and influence private behaviour, including through regulations, property rights, market-based mechanisms or subsidising certain activities. (The Treasury,2010). However, individuals can also demonstrate concern for the environment by undertaking personal environment protection activities, such as recycling and reducing electricity and water consumption.
In the green economy movement has emerged a new type of consumer, denominated by the International Institute for Sustainable Development – IISD as green consumer. Its research has pointed out thefollowing characteristics that green consumers have in common:
Global perspective: Who are the green consumers?
• Have sincere intentions and growing commitment to greener lifestyles.
• Usually judge their environmental practices as inadequate.
• Have low expectation about companies and prefer those ones that have made improvements around its sustainable practices.
• Tend to exaggerate theirgreen behaviour and consume a lot of green products.
• Want environmental protection to be easy without major sacrifices.
• Tend to distrust companies' environmental claims, unless they have been independently verified.
• Tend not to trust them to evaluate scientific information about environmental impacts.
• They are eager to learn about sustainable practices and plugged into innovation.
•In general have intellectual orientation to appreciate sustainable values.
• The most responsive age group tends to be young adults, many of whom are influenced by their children.
• Women are a key target for greener products, and often make purchases on behalf of men.
• Usually have more income and money to spend. As a result, the most promising products for 'greening' tend to be at the higherprices.
• In the US, children and teens are generally more concerned than adults about the environment, and are more knowledgeable about green alternatives. They influence their parents' purchasing decisions. Millions of them will reach adulthood in the next decade, and gain purchasing power of their own.
• Most green consumers prefer to buy environmental products in stores where they usuallyshop.
Australian perspective: Concern about the environment
According to the survey realised by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2007–08, 82% of Australian adults that was around 12.8 million people, reported that they were concerned about at least one environmental problem. However, only around 26% reported that the condition of the natural environment was bad while 39% felt thatit was neither good nor bad. Nevertheless, 53% said they thought the natural environment was declining (ABS, 2008).
Figure 1: Who reported the natural environment was declining
Australian perspective: Concern about climate change
In 2007–08 73% of adults said they were concerned about climate change, although there was some variation across population groups. Adults aged65 years and over were less likely to report being concerned about climate change (60%) than adults in other age groups. Adults who were not employed were less likely to be concerned about climate change than those who were employed (68% compared with 76%); and those without a non-school qualification were less likely to be concerned than those with a non-school qualification (69% compared with77%). Adults with a Bachelor degree or above were more likely to be concerned about climate change (83%) than those with a diploma (78%) and those with a certificate (73%) (ABS, 2008).
Figure 2: Who were concerned about climate change
Australian perspective: Concern about recycling
Overall, young adults (18–24 years) were the least likely to sort out recyclable waste (74%)...