Kiwis suffering 'green fatigue'

Last updated 13:38 29/10/2009

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A survey has found New Zealanders are suffering "green fatigue" through constant warnings of an approaching environmental armageddon.

Researchers questioned 1000 people and in their findings noted: "We know global warming is a problem. But incessantly remind us that we'll ruin a perfectly good planet if we don't half-flush, ride to work, or recycle and - guess what - there's a real danger we'll just zone out."

While 97 percent said they were doing their bit for the planet, only 3 percent claimed to be "totally committed".

The vast majority used plastic bags (with 23 percent getting a rebellious thrill from the practice), took long showers and drove gas guzzling cars when they could have walked or taken a bus or a train.

More than two thirds said they resented having to sort rubbish for recycling and only 24 percent felt bad about using the wrong bins.

Readers Digest, which commissioned the survey, spoke with an advertising executive who said "Green" was a "damaged brand" and media saturation had led to "green fatigue".

While men appeared to be less concerned about the environment, one woman's comment summed up the mood of many respondents.

"I'd like not to be made to feel guilty for making my life easier."

Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty agreed people could easily become "burnt out with a sense of catastrophe and powerlessness".

"I think inspiration rather than blame is what encourages people to feel they can make a difference and care for the planet," she told NZPA.

"If people feel blamed they go into denial and if we can get out of denial and start realising that people have power it can be a very positive and rewarding thing."

She said the scale of the problem, combined with the environmental disasters depicted in the media could make the issue hard for the average person to relate to.

"I think it's really hard sometimes to make the connection between 'the arctic's melting' and 'my shower heads need to be different'.

"But we need to make changes easy for people."

Ms Delahunty's interview with NZPA was cut short when the connection was lost after the train she was travelling on entered a tunnel.

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- NZPA

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