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4626.0.55.001 - Environmental views and behaviour, 2007-08 (2nd issue) Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 18/06/2009   
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS


ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Most Australian adults (82%) were concerned about the environment in 2007-08. The highest concern was reported by residents of the Australian Capital Territory (90%) (table 1).

People aged 18-24 years were less concerned than all other age groups, with around one-quarter (26%) not concerned about the environment. Comparatively lower levels of concern were also reported by people without a non-school qualification (24% not concerned), people not in the labour force and those aged 65 and over (both 23%) and unemployed people and people born overseas (both 22%) (table 2).

The most common attitude to the condition of the natural environment was that it was neither good nor bad (39%). People in South Australia were most likely to report that the condition of the natural environment was bad (35%) and people in New South Wales were most likely to report that it was in good condition (33%) (table 3).

Young adults aged 18-24 years and older Australians aged 65 year and over were less likely than other adults to say that the natural environment was in a bad condition (table 4).

People who were born overseas were much more likely than people born in Australia to say that the state of the natural environment was good (43% compared with 24%).

While almost four in ten people (39%) thought the condition of the natural environment was neither good nor bad, most people believed that the natural environment was declining (53%). A quarter of the population (25%) said it was staying the same. People in the Australian Capital Territory were most likely to say that the natural environment was declining (64%), while people in New South Wales were most likely to say that it was improving (18%) (table 5).

People born in Australia were more likely to say that the natural environment was declining (57%) compared with people born overseas (43%) (table 6).

Almost nine out of ten people expressed concern about water shortages. Around three-quarters (73%) of the population was concerned about climate change and more than two-thirds (69%) expressed concern about the accumulation and disposal of household waste (table 7).

On the question of climate change, the Australian Capital Territory reported the highest concern (81%) and the Northern Territory the lowest (69%).

Males were also less concerned than females about climate change, with 25% not concerned compared with 19% of females not concerned (table 8).

Older Australians aged 65 years and over were the least concerned about climate change (30%). People with a Bachelor Degree or above were more concerned (83%) about climate change than those with other or no qualifications.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, Whether concerned about climate change
Graph: ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, Whether concerned about climate change


Women were more concerned about water shortages than men (91% compared to 87%). They were also more concerned about disposal of household waste than men (73% compared with 65%).


PERSONAL ELECTRICITY USE

Most Australians (88%) reported that they take steps to limit their electricity use. People aged 18-24 years were less likely than other adults to limit their electricity use (26% did not limit their use). These young adults were also much more likely than older people to report that they did not care how much electricity they used (19%) (tables 10 and 12).

The main reasons people gave for not taking steps to limit electricity use was that their electricity consumption was already low enough (33%) and that they had not thought about saving electricity (27%) (table 11).

PERSONAL ELECTRICITY USE, Reasons do not take steps to limit use
Graph: PERSONAL ELECTRICITY USE, Reasons do not take steps to limit use


While nearly half (47%) of people reported that they thought their personal electricity use had decreased in the 12 months prior to the survey, a similar proportion (45%) reported that their personal electricity use had stayed the same (table 13). The main reason given for increased electricity use was lifestyle changes (35%) (table 15).

Males were more likely than females to report that a reason for their increased electricity use was that they bought more electrical appliances (36% compared to 25%) (table 16). Most people (70%) reported they did not purchase any appliance in the last 12 months, while 21% purchased only one appliance (table 19).

Washing machines were the most commonly bought appliance (41% of people had purchased one in the 12 months prior to the survey), followed by refrigerators (38%) and then air conditioners (25%) (table 21).

Young people, aged 18-24 years, were the most likely to have purchased a washing machine (47%) a refrigerator (46%) and a clothes dryer (23%), but people in this age group were least likely to have bought an air conditioner (16%) or a dishwasher (11%). Those aged 25-34 years were the most likely to buy an air conditioner (28%) or dishwasher (19%) (table 22).

The most important factor in decisions to buy a washing machine and a dishwasher was water efficiency (79% and 75% respectively) followed by energy efficiency and then purchase price. For other appliances e.g. refrigerator, air conditioner, clothes dryer and separate freezer, energy efficiency was the most important factor, followed by purchase price (tables 23 to 34).


PERSONAL WATER USE

In 2007-08, more than half the population (55%) reported that they thought their personal water use had decreased in the last 12 months while four in ten (40%) said their water use had stayed the same. Only 4% thought their water use had increased (table 35).

PERSONAL WATER USE, Whether use decreased
Graph: PERSONAL WATER USE, Whether use decreased


People in the Northern Territory (11%) were more likely to have seen an increase in their personal water use in the 12 months prior to the survey than were people in other parts of Australia.

Nationally, the main reason reported to explain increased water use was lifestyle changes (36%). Almost one-quarter of people (23%) whose personal water use had increased reported increased water needs in the garden as the reason for the increase (table 37).

The most common reason given for a decrease in personal water use was that people had tried to conserve water at home (76%). More than four in ten (42%) said water restrictions were a reason for their decreased water use (table 39).

In 2007-08, of those Australians who believed water restrictions were in place in their area, 54% reported that water restrictions affected their personal water use. People in Victoria and South Australia were most likely to report water restrictions affecting their personal water use (table 43).

Young people, aged 18-24 years, reported that water restrictions did not affect personal water use (51%), compared to 42% of people aged 55-64 years (table 44).

The activity most greatly affected by water restrictions was watering the garden (81%), followed by those wanting to wash motor vehicles (60%). Restrictions on watering the garden most affected those aged 65 and over more than any other age group (table 46).


WASTE COLLECTION AND DISPOSAL

Most Australians (82%) were satisfied with their current waste collection services in 2007-08. People in Western Australia (21%) and the Northern Territory (19%) were the most likely to be dissatisfied with their waste collection services (table 49).

Greater satisfaction with waste collection services was reported by people born overseas (85%) compared with people born in Australia (80%); by people aged 65 years and over (88%) compared with all adults (82%); and by people with no non-school qualification (84%) compared with those holding post-school qualifications (80%) (table 50).

Most Australians (84%) sorted recyclable from non-recyclable waste materials all or most of the time. More than one in ten people aged 18-24 years (12%) reported that they rarely or never sort recyclable from non-recyclable material. Similar proportions of unemployed people (13%) and people with no non-school qualification (10%) rarely or never sorted recyclable from non-recyclable waste (table 54).

One-third of Australians (33%) composted or recycled kitchen or food waste all or most of the time. More than half the population (52%), however, did this rarely or never (table 55).

Those born in Australia were more likely to report composting or recycling garden waste all or most of the time (40%) than they were to report doing it rarely or never (31%) (table 58).

While a large proportion of Australians (41%) used green or reusable shopping bags all or most of the time, one quarter of people (25%) rarely or never use them. People in the Northern Territory were most likely to report using green/reusable shopping bags rarely or never (34%) compared with people in other parts of Australia (table 59).

WASTE COLLECTION AND DISPOSAL, Rarely or never used green or reusable bags
Graph: WASTE COLLECTION AND DISPOSAL, Rarely or never used green or reusable bags


In 2007-08, Australians with personal gross weekly incomes of $2000 or more were less likely to use green shopping bags. Nearly a third (31%) reported using them rarely or never compared with people on lower incomes. Other characteristics linked to lower use of green plastic bags included being male, being aged 18-24 years, and being unemployed (table 60).


ENVIRONMENTAL INVOLVEMENT

More than 5 million people (34%) had some form of environmental involvement in the 12 months prior to the survey. The most commonly reported environmental activity undertaken was signing a petition relating to any environmental issues (17%), followed by donating money to help protect the environment (14%). One in ten people expressed concern about the environment through a letter, email or by talking to responsible authorities. Two in three people reported no involvement in environmental activities (table 61).

ENVIRONMENTAL INVOLVEMENT, Environmental activities involved in during the last 12 months
Graph: ENVIRONMENTAL INVOLVEMENT, Environmental activities involved in during the last 12 months


People in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory were most likely to donate money to help the environment (17% and 18% respectively) than those in other parts of Australia.


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