Men, take note. You have a bit of a problem being green. We’re not talking about wearing green to a Boston Celtics game. This is vegetable-eating, clean-energy supporting, turn-off-the-light-when-you-leave-the-room green.
Research suggests women are a little more environmentally conscious. They are less likely than men to support spending cuts on environmental initiatives and more likely to have positive feelings about environmental activism.
A report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows women have less trust than men that the institutions responsible for protecting the environment are actually doing their jobs, and they are more likely than men to volunteer for and give money to environmental causes.
Women’s support for environmentalism appears to translate into action both nationally and in Maine.
About 53 percent of the dues-paying members at the Natural Resources Council of Maine are women. Of the activists who have taken action on one or more issues with NRCM, about 57 percent are women.
At the national level, Christopher Weber, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon, analyzed spending data and greenhouse gas figures and found the average single woman was responsible for 30 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. The average single man was responsible for 32 tons.
The most significant difference was in driving habits. (Hello, pickup trucks). The analysis also found that single women spent more on home utilities and health care, while single men spent more on alcohol, tobacco and education.
Studies in Europe offered similar results, showing that men consumed more meat and processed beverages, used cars more frequently and drove longer distances. (Did you know it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef?)
Granted, women and men are equally lacking in their knowledge of which measures save the most energy. In one 2010 study, most participants mentioned curtailment — like turning off lights or driving less — as the most effective way to conserve energy. Instead experts recommend greater efficiency, such as substituting compact fluorescent light bulbs for incandescent bulbs.
Whether you’re male or female, you can probably do a better job finding energy efficiencies. With only about five percent of the world’s population, the U.S. produces about 19 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since 1990, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 10.5 percent.
While everyone can improve, it’s becoming clearer that men in particular could be pulling more of their weight. Women might — are? — get tired of pulling it for them. They certainly have been voicing their opinions through their voting habits. More women than men have been identifying themselves as Democrats for decades.
Being more environmentally conscious benefits more than the earth. It may even boost men’s egos, as some women find it sexy when men recycle. The eco-friendly dating site Planet Earth Singles has more than 70,000 members. Similar sites include Green Friends, Green Singles, Concerned Singles and Eco Dater. California has Green Speed Dating.
So, Maine men, are you going to lessen your red meat intake, buy a compact car, dry your clothes on a clothesline or plant more trees? Being environmentally responsible is not only the right thing but the manly thing to do. Time to lead the pack? That’s right, put the plastic bags down. No, we’re not coming back for your mud-caked pickup.