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4602.0 - Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices, Mar 2001  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 22/11/2001   
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  • About this Release
  • Concern over environment drops to its lowest levels: ABS (Media Release)

Concern over environment drops to its lowest levels: ABS


Concern about environmental problems among Australian households dropped to its lowest level since recording by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) started, with 62% of Australian households reporting being concerned over the environment in 2001 compared with 75% in 1992, according to a report released by the ABS today.

Less than one in ten (8%), of those who stated concern about environmental problems, formally registered an environmental concern via letter, telephone, demonstration, signed petition, or any other method in the 12 months prior to March 2001. The most favoured method of expressing concern was by signing a petition (37%), writing a letter (33%), and using the telephone ( 27%), with participation in a demonstration being the least favoured method (6%).

The majority of people who said they were concerned about environmental problems did not belong to an environmental group (7% were members of an environment group), although about 20% of Australians donated time or money to environmental protection in the 12 months prior to March 2001. (Compared with 28% of Australians who donated some time or money in 1992).

Increasingly, more people stated 'no time' as the main reason for not being involved in any environmental action (49% in 2001 compared with 45% in 1998). Age and health (10%) and not knowing how to get involved (7% ) were other reasons given for not being involved. Only 4% reported not caring or not being interested.
State and Territory data
  • The ACT (71%), SA (70%) and WA (69%) reported the highest level of concern for environmental problems.
  • The most populous State, NSW, reported the lowest level of concern in 2001 (59%, down from 73% in 1998), followed by Tasmania (60%). Tasmania has previously reported the lowest level of concern in all surveys since 1992.
  • South Australians and Western Australians were most likely to donate time or money to environmental protection (both 25%). NT residents were the least likely to do so (14%).

The publication Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (Cat. No. 4602.0) also reports on drinking water quality, use of environmentally friendly products, and visits to World Heritage Areas and Parks. Some other comparisons from the report include:
  • Tasmanians were the largest users of phosphate-free cleaning products (30%) and the greatest consumers of organically grown fruit and vegetables (27%).
  • About 33% of South Australians used rainwater tanks for their main source of drinking water, which was three times the national average.
  • People in the ACT were the most likely to have visited a World Heritage Area or Park (64%).

WATER CONSERVATION IN AUSTRALIAN HOUSEHOLDS FAR FROM IMPRESSIVE

Less than half of Australian households are practising water conservation inside the home and these households are on the decrease according to a report on Australian households environmental practices released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today.

An estimated 56% of Australian households did not adopt any behavioural practice to conserve water inside the home, up from 54% in 1994 and 53% in 1998. The most common water conservation habits reported by Australian households inside the home included: turning off or repairing dripping taps (20%); having full loads when washing (16%); and having shorter showers (14%).

However, water conservation techniques were more routinely applied outside the home, with 58% of Australian households employing water conservation strategies in their gardens. Watering either early in the morning or late in the evening was the main water conservation strategy employed (43%), however, the number of households adopting this measure has dropped from 49% in 1998.

The more efficient methods of watering the garden were less utilised. Timer on tap was employed by 10% of households with a garden, while the drip system was installed and used by 8%. The principal method of watering the garden was hand watering, which was used by two in three households (66%).

The installation and use of water saving devices in Australian households however, is showing a dramatic increase. The proportion of households using dual flush toilets has increased by two thirds since 1994 (64% in 2001; 55% in 1998; 39% in 1994), and the use of reduced flow shower heads is also on the rise (35% in 2001; 32% in 1998; 22% in 1994).
State and Territory data
  • NSW and ACT were the States least likely to take water conservation steps in the home (62% and 63%, respectively, took no water conservation steps). This represents a large increase on 1998 figures (51% and 52%, respectively).
  • Dual flush toilets were most likely to occur in South Australia (72%), while reduced flow shower heads were most wide spread in Western Australia (40%). New South Wales and ACT households were the least likely to have either of these water saving devices (34% and 32%, respectively).
  • WA and NT were the States most likely to conserve water in the garden (68% and 66%, respectively), while NSW households were the least likely to do so (50%).

The publication Environmental Issues: People's Views and Practices (Cat. No. 4602.0) also reports on drinking water quality, use of environmentally friendly products, and visits to World Heritage Areas and Parks. Some other comparisons from the report include:
  • Households in NSW were the most frequent users of pesticides or weedkillers (35%).
  • People in SA were the most likely to rely on bottled water for drinking (16%), which was twice the national average.
  • South Australians and Victorians were the least likely to have visited a World Heritage Area or Park (50%).

Copies fo this publication are available in ABS bookshops in capital cities. A summary of its main features is available on this site. If you wish to purchase a copy of this publication contact the ABS Bookshop in your capital city.

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