Green portrait of a typical Quebecer: what is he doing to save the planet?

Imagine an individual who perfectly represents all 8.4 million Quebecers. What's his relationship to the environment? We looked into the matter and here are the results!

By Fonds de solidarité FTQ

If we tried to mirror the entire population with a single individual to see how they express themselves environmentally speaking, would we be surprised by what we see? What does he think about climate change? What are his eating habits? Does he compost? Those are the kind of questions we wanted to answer with this composite portrait of a Quebecer who represents each and every one of us.

Like the survey conducted by the Fonds de solidarité FTQ about the relationship between young people and their money, this year the company is looking at Quebecers and the environment, specifically how it affects their buying habits. From March 11 to 18, 2019, we conducted an opinion poll among 1002 Quebecers in collaboration with Léger research to get a better sense of their perceptions, their behaviour and their spending habits.

What concerns him?

Does he even believe in climate change?

If this Quebecer (who represents us) looks to the future, what he sees is quite concerning because he is a firm believer in the existence of climate change. He even believes the issue will continue to be a major concern for the next 25 years.

79% of people think that climate change is real, 16% have mixed views on the subject, 3% have no opinion and 2% don’t believe in it at all.

With the health of the planet at heart, he also has other concerns in the short and medium term. For instance, he's worried about overconsumption, plastic pollution, greenhouse gases and water pollution.

And, like 91% of us, he thinks doing small things every day can make all the difference. But how does he make the switch to greener living?

How he manages household waste

Could he get onboard the “zero waste” challenge, where you don't produce any waste for an entire year?

61% said no way, but they would make some effort to reduce their waste production. 24% said yes, with some effort, 11% said no, there’s zero chance of that happening, and 5% said yes, no problem at all.

So our typical Quebecer says he's not quite ready to adopt this habit, even though he is becoming more and more familiar with the concept and wants to do his part by trying to reduce the amount of waste he produces. On this topic, there are a number of tips and tricks for going zero wasteAttention, this link will open a new tab. gradually.

At what point does he think recycling requires too much effort?

Like 58% of Quebecers, he has made recycling part of his daily life. So he recycles everything, even if he's not sure some of the items are recyclable at all. On the other hand, he balks at washing containers before recycling them and he's not particularly enthusiastic about sorting!

58% of people responded that they recycle everything, 18% said it wasn’t always clear what’s recyclable and what’s not, 12% replied, yes, as long as they don’t have to wash anything, 9% said as long as they don’t have to do the sorting themselves, 3% said as long as they don’t have to bring the recycling to the curb themselves.

Does he compost?

52% of people do not compost and 5% of them don’t because it smells. 48% of people compost.

More and more municipalities are offering organic waste collection or subsidizing the purchase of compost bins. So if he's not already part of the 48% of the population that composts, that trend could eventually change!

How he gets around

93 % of Quebec households own at least one vehicle.

What kind of vehicle does he own?

73% of people have a gasoline-powered car as their main vehicle, 17% a gas-powered SUV or crossover, 3% a hybrid, 2% an electric vehicle, 2% a minivan and 2% a pickup.

So he owns a gas-powered car, like the majority of his fellow citizens, though electric vehicles are gaining in popularity. Close to 50% of EVs in Canada are registered and owned in Quebec!

61 % of people say the principle reason they try to minimize their energy consumption is to save money rather than reducing their impact on the environment.

He makes an effort to save energy by turning off the lights when he leaves the room, turning down the heat when he's not home, and washing his clothes in cold water.

But are there other things that have an impact on his wallet? His food, perhaps?

How he eats

About how much of his weekly grocery purchase gets thrown out?

While he says he only throws out about 10% of his total weekly grocery purchase, the available data suggest he throws out an average 183 kg of food annually.

62% of people responded they waste 10% or less of the food they purchase, 32% don’t waste any, 6% about a quarter and 1% about a third.

What does he think about veganism?

33% of respondents said their awareness of the issue has increased but they would continue to consume animal products, 21% are indifferent, 18% answered that vegans take themselves too seriously, 11% don’t think it’s realistic, 10% have no opinion, 7% try to eat vegan as much as possible, 1% are vegan.

He says he has become more knowledgeable about veganism, where people consume no foods or materials derived from animals whatsoever, even if he hasn't personally adopted the vegan lifestyle.

Speaking of eating meat, the recent report by the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recommends that we change our eating habits so as to significantly reduce our meat consumption (without necessarily banning the practice) and to encourage eating more plant-based products to lower our greenhouse gas production (GHGs). Not quite ready to make the leap to tofu? Chicken remains an attractive alternative to beef as it takes 4 times less carbon to produce.

In Canada, we waste more food than we eat! And in Quebec, 47% of it is wasted at home, to the tune of over $1000 per household per year!

In light of our survey's findings, what conclusions can we draw from this green portrait of the typical Quebecer?

He is more and more aware of our environmental predicament and is gradually adopting greener habits. He has a ways to go, however, personally as well as collectively, to limit human impact on the health of the planet. Keep in mind that it will take all of us working together to make a difference!

Learn more about Quebecers' green lifestyle habits

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