Part 1 – germans want to live more environmentally friendly – within their comfort zone

It seems that environmental and climate protection are more than ever among the central challenges facing society. The Internet is teeming with "zero-waste" guides, shower cream alternatives and so-called "GreenApps". The "ecological question" has arrived in the middle of society, and is no longer perceived merely as a troublesome problem for mankind.

Awareness for the environment is there

For more and more Germans, being nature-conscious is part of a good lifestyle.

At least in theory. In theory, we all know that we produce too much plastic, that it is unnecessary to take a bath every other day, and that we could have done our shopping quickly by bike instead of by car.

Nevertheless, the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) has ranked Germany just 30th in the world’s greenest countries. What’s the problem?

Politicians are to blame!

What are "those up there" actually doing for our environment?? A question that interests many Germans. According to a 2016 study by the Federal Environment Agency, one in five Germans considers the environment and climate change to be one of the most important challenges facing the Federal Republic of Germany.

In addition, the majority of Germans believe that the German government is not sufficiently committed to environmental and climate protection.

Anyone can complain, but are we actually doing anything about it ourselves??

After all – since 2010, awareness of environmental and climate protection has grown steadily, especially in the political context. According to the survey, this has doubled interest in the topic of globalization over the past few years.

The world is still green here

For their own country, German citizens rate the quality of the environment above average – and have done so since 2004. Three-quarters of people were satisfied with the quality of the environment in Germany in 2016. Contrast this with the global environmental situation. This is appallingly badly assessed by us Germans. So according to the motto: "On the inside, bad news on the outside!"

Environmental quality in Germany and worldwide amavido survey

Environmental quality worldwide and in Germany, survey by BMUB / Federal Environment Agency

Is that why we are too comfortable to change anything??

The study also reveals that we hold our domestic economic policy partly responsible for poor environmental policy abroad. It is interesting to note that our need for an intact environment has much lower priority than social security, family and a high standard of living. Since the older generation probably grew up with more poverty, fulfilling basic needs is especially important to them.

On the one hand, it is necessary to boost the economy in order to build up a good standard of living. However, many younger people criticize economic growth and long for a more sustainable system.

The consumer junkies of today

High standard of living today means above all: I can buy what I want!

Despite numerous fair trade products, slow fashion and the flea market movements: The majority of the younger population consumes in bulk (and the trend is rising!) and in particular in the area of fashion and electronics. An item gets boring after you’ve worn it twice, so something new is needed. The latest smartphone is on the market? After a few days we also need it!

To satisfy the hunger of consumer junkies, there are now new clothing collections every 1-2 months. Fashion chains defend themselves by saying:

"We have to adapt to the needs of our customers, who constantly WANT something new and everything for little money."

True, price is one of the most important arguments when buying clothes, says the survey by the Federal Environment Agency. Material of clothing has little importance and the country of origin is still completely ignored by 50% of consumers.

When it comes to consumption, environmental awareness quickly takes a back seat.

Let’s drive greener?

After all – things are looking up in terms of mobility!

Owning a car has become relatively unimportant for the younger generation between 14 and 25 years of age. Looks like the longtime prestige symbol car has slowly been replaced by the at least somewhat more environmentally friendly smartphone. Many young people switch to public transport and bicycles. This is not very popular with the elderly.

Children and young people would like more advice regarding the choice of their means of transport. The fact that they already want to understand the subject better at a young age brings with it hope for a better approach to the environment.

The younger generation is also increasingly interested in new concepts such as car sharing and ride sharing. Companies are still serving a niche market, but the number of users is rising steadily.

Sharing is Caring!

On the other hand, swapping, lending, repairing and giving away have gained in popularity. What is interesting to observe here is that longevity is a lower priority than reusing used items. So in general, buying used stuff is more popular than selling it yourself.

Does road noise get on your nerves too??

You got to bed late and can finally sleep in, but at 06:00 your dreams are interrupted by an idyllic walk on the beach in Sicily – and by the loud engine roar of passing cars.

Noise and stench – these are the two factors that, according to the survey, annoy Germans the most in terms of the consequences of environmental pollution. Three-quarters of respondents in Germany feel at least "somewhat bothered" by car exhaust and road noise. Industrial and aircraft noise are also unpleasant consequences of environmentally unfriendly lifestyles, which many people feel disturbed by. That’s why, in fact, more than 90% of respondents say they would be willing to give up their cars to promote sustainable development. So it is up to the politicians to initiate the right steps!

Health impact of environmental statistics amavido

Health burden and social status, survey by BMUB / Federal Environment Agency

People are willing to break old habits, but need good alternatives, says German Environment Minister Hendricks.

"Fewer cars, efficient and affordable public transport, good and safe bike paths – all of these are things that many people would like to see in order to improve the quality of life and value the environment Protects."

Green electricity finally becoming hip!

Green electricity and energy-efficient appliances are also increasingly moving into households. Half of Germans say they are looking for an environmentally friendly electricity provider and have already bought an energy-efficient appliance.

Nearly one-tenth of people who have taken an airplane trip in the past 12 months also say they have made offsetting payments to offset their own carbon dioxide emissions. However, it should be noted that half of the respondents were unable or unwilling to make a statement about this.

Time for social environmental policy

Social justice is one of those issues that we are already at least as fed up with – precisely because it is so important, not to say indispensable is for our society. So what if the two issues were linked together?

The majority in Germany cannot even imagine that it is possible to improve equality in society through environmental protection or that it is possible to link the two issues. Yet there are very real points of connection. According to surveys conducted last year, more than 80% of Germans see at least one connection between sustainable development and health. Through more environmental efforts they expect an increase in quality of life and a stronger connection to nature. They hope that this will improve their health.

Benefits of sustainable living survey environment amavido

From: Environmental awareness in Germany 2016, survey by BMUB / Federal Environment Agency

Factors such as education, income and place of residence also influence the health consequences associated with pollution. Thus, according to the study, population groups with low social status perceive their health burden much more strongly.

Why this? Well, it cannot be denied that the cheapest housing is mostly located on main roads or near airports. In addition, there is a lack of green spaces, poor education and high prices for buying environmentally friendly products or organic foods. Here, poorer social classes clearly have a harder time paying attention to the environmental situation and their associated health.

Conversely, a more consistent environmental protection could also promote social justice, or?

In any case, it is good to see that the issue is now also seen by many as an incentive for a better sense of cohesion in society. And this is probably true, considering that we are all equally acutely confronted with the issue of the environment and therefore can and must work on it only collectively.

Landscape Environment Germany amavido

We know the problems

All in all, young and old people know very well that our behavior is responsible for the environmental problems in poorer countries. You seem to care about the environment for yourself and for the next generation. When it comes to reducing for the good of the environment, Germans are more skeptical. Only 63.5 % assume that lower consumption could be a companion to a better environment. Truth or self-protection? 49% of respondents also said they believe that climate change can be fixed with economic growth.

And now?

And what do all these statistics tell us now? In any case, it is noticeable that the responsibility for our earth is most willingly shifted back and forth. Whether to local politics, to the federal government or to the neighbor – there is complaining and accusation. There are actually a lot of things that we can do all by ourselves – right now, today!

In the second part of this article, we have compiled tips for a more sustainable lifestyle that you can easily integrate into your everyday life. So let’s get to it!

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