India has topped a list of 17 nations on best sustainable behaviour, with consumers in the US last on the list, according to a new survey.
The global analysis by the National Geographic Society found that Indian consumers were the most conscious about their environment footprint and were more guilty about their impact despite having the best sustainable behaviour.
Ironically, people in developing countries like India, China and Brazil - in that order - were making the most sustainable choices, while consumers in the rich nations had the least sustainable lifestyles.India accounted for a Greendex score of 58.9, followed by China at 57.8 and Brazil at 55.5, while the US was ranked the lowest at a score of 44.7.
People in India and other developing countries were also found to be the most "guilty about the impact" they have on the environment.
"Yet 45% of Indian and 42% of Chinese consumers feel guilty about the impact they have on the environment - first and second among those surveyed and two times higher than Americans," it said.
"In what may be a major disconnect between perception and behaviour, the study also shows that consumers who feel the guiltiest about their impact - those in China, India and Brazil - actually lead the pack in sustainable consumer choices. That's despite Chinese and Indian consumers also being among the least confident that individual action can help the environment," it said.
In contrast only 21% of US consumers are guilty about the impact they have on the environment.
"The data suggest a significant divide between how emerging markets and developed nations experience environmental challenges," said Terry Garcia, executive vice president for Mission Programs at the National Geographic Society.
She said concern about air and water pollution is highest among Chinese, Mexican, Brazilian and Argentinean consumers as well as in Russia and India.