Who Cares About the Environment?

Published 12th March, 2013

NSW residents have a more positive view of the environment and its condition and nearly everyone is active in helping out, according to new research.

The Who Cares About the Environment? survey, conducted every three years, measures people’s environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviour and identifies how these have changed over time.

“The results are very encouraging, with many more people feeling the situation in NSW has become better over the past three years on a range of environmental issues than those who feel it has become worse,” said the Office of Environment and Heritage Chief Executive, Sally Barnes.

“Importantly almost everyone (98%) said they had often done at least one of the 10 surveyed environmentally friendly ‘everyday’ activities in the last 12 months, with people, on average, doing five or six of the 10 activities often.

“The activities surveyed included actions such as reducing energy, water and fuel consumption, avoiding tipping oil, fat and paint down the sink or toilet, carefully choosing household products and composting food and garden refuse,” she said.

The Who Cares findings complement the State of the Environment Report to give a comprehensive picture of how people in NSW are engaging with the environment and environmental issues.

In the 2012 Who Cares survey, for the first time, no single environmental issue or ‘threat’ dominated the public mind. Instead a number of issues rated fairly evenly as important including air quality, water conservation, mining, waste, and loss of biodiversity.

"The importance of environmental issues in the community is always relative to other issues directly impacting people’s lives in the home and in business, such as the rising cost of energy,” Ms Barnes said.

“In this way, the research reinforces the importance of many of the current NSW Government programs that focus on supporting business and communities protect the environment while also reducing overall energy and water costs.”

The research also shows that a majority of people in the state are getting out and about and spending time in the outdoors, visiting beaches and waterways, gardens and parklands, and natural bushland areas – and expressed very positive emotional responses to being in such settings.

The Office of Environment and Heritage is holding a series of free public seminars for those who are interested in finding out more about the research, with seminars in Sydney and five regional locations.

For more information about the research and the seminars, visit www.environment.nsw.gov.au/community/whocares.htm

Image courtesy of Jo Caldwell, Office of Environment and Heritage

Published 12th March, 2013