Brazilians and Indian consumers ranked the most environmentally friendly in a new study that put Americans in last place.
Indians and Brazilians each scored 60.0 points on the new "Greendex," announced Wednesday by the National Geographic Society.
Americans scored 44.9 points in the survey of 1,000 consumers in each of 14 countries.
National Geographic vice president Terry Garcia said this first Greendex will form a baseline for comparison as the survey is repeated annually.
"It will allow us over time to assess the progress that people are making to conserve, minimize waste and protect natural resources for the future," he said.
The survey, conducted online by the polling firm GlobeScan, asked a cross-section of consumers about their house, energy use, transportation, food, purchases of goods and other activities.
The goal was not to rank countries, but to assess consumer behavior in different locations, Garcia stressed.
Brazil ranked high, for example, because the average household is physically small, most homes aren't heated, few are air conditioned and Brazilians tend to use on-demand water heaters.
How various countries scored:
1. Tie. 60.0. Brazil had the best ranking for sustainable households and also did well on transportation and goods purchases. About average on food. Indian consumers had relatively low impact from housing and scored well on transportation and food.
3. 56.1. China scored well on transportation for low use of cars and more walking or biking than most countries. Had negative ranking for use of coal in home heating.
4. 54.3. Mexicans got good marks for household size and purchases of goods but were in the middle of the pack on transportation and ranked poorly in food consumption habits.
5. 53.2. Hungary posted a low household footprint, though consumers were least likely to report recycling or purchasing environmentally friendly products.
6. 52.4. Russian consumers had relatively small households and more sustainable transportation habits than many others.
7. Tie. 50.5. Australia had relatively large households and higher levels of car ownership and driving solo but scored well for water use and energy-saving appliances. Germany had the highest household sustainability in the West with high rates of insulation, thermal windows and energy-saving heating, but ranked low on transport with most owning one or more cars. United Kingdom recorded high household footprints and were middling in transport but did well in terms of local food consumption.
10. 50.0. Spain did well in transportation but ranked low on sustainable food consumption such as high rates of eating meat and seafood.
11. 49.1. Japan ranked low because of wide use of oil for home heating and food choices often including pork and seafood.
12. 48.7. France was the lowest among European countries ranked, having relatively large homes, many heated by oil and fewer than half having insulation. They are also less likely to choose energy-saving appliances.
13. 48.5. Canada ranked low because of large home size and high solo driving.
14. 44.9. United States ranked last on sustainable transportation, housing and purchases of goods and was near the bottom on food.