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Households and the Environment Survey, 2017

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Released: 2019-04-02

Canadian households play an important role in the environment, whether it be changing the type of light bulbs they use to ones that use less energy, volunteering on behalf of a group to conserve or protect the environment, independently cleaning up shorelines, beaches or roadsides, or enjoying one of the many parks or greenspace near their home. In 2017, 12.9 million Canadian households reported some type of environmental engagement, ranging from their choice of lightbulb to volunteering their time to teach others about nature.

Profile of energy-saving light usage is changing

Almost 9 out of 10 (88%) Canadian households reported using at least one type of energy-saving light in 2017, a rate that has remained relatively unchanged over the last decade. The types of energy-saving lights households choose, however, has changed significantly over the last few years.

The use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which are among the most energy-efficient lights available to consumers, has continued to increase, with 50% of households using one in 2017, up from 30% in 2015 and 7% in 2009.

The proportion of households reporting the use of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and fluorescent tubes continued to decline. In 2017, 55% of households reported using CFLs, down from 69% in 2007, while 32% of households reported using fluorescent tubes, down from 46%.

The use of halogen lights decreased from 35% in 2015 to 28% in 2017.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Use of energy-saving lights
Use of energy-saving lights

Environmentally-engaged households in Quebec most likely to volunteer on behalf of a group or organization

Nationally, almost half (49%) of households that reported volunteering to conserve and protect the environment or wildlife did so on behalf of a group or organization in 2017. Among households in Quebec engaged in volunteer work, 63% did so as part of a group, compared with about one-third of households in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan.

Meanwhile, over two-thirds of Canadian households (70%) that reported volunteering in environmental conservation and protection activities did so independently. Engaged households in New Brunswick (88%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (both 83%) were most likely to have volunteered independently to conserve and protect the environment, while those in Quebec and British Columbia (both 59%) were the least likely.

Cleaning up shorelines, beaches, rivers, lakes or roadsides is the most common volunteer work

In 2017, 41% of engaged households participated in cleaning up shorelines, beaches, rivers, lakes or roadsides. Engaged households in Prince Edward Island (66%) and Nova Scotia (65%) were most likely to participate in this activity, while those in Saskatchewan (27%) were the least likely.

Nationally, 15% of engaged households reported monitoring and assessing wildlife species and natural habitats such as participating in bird counts.

In 2017, 8% of Canadian households reported that a member of the household volunteered their time to teach others about nature. Households in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia were most likely to have volunteered (about 10% each).

Most Canadian households are within a 10-minute walk or drive to a park or greenspace

Most Canadian households (87%) reported having a park or greenspace within a 10-minute journey of their home in 2017. Households in British Columbia (90%), Alberta (89%) and Saskatchewan (89%) were most likely to have one near where they live, while households in New Brunswick (71%) were least likely to have reported this.

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nation's transformative plan of action that addresses urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

The Households and the Environment Survey is an example of how Statistics Canada supports the reporting on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. This release will help to measure the following goals:

  Note to readers

The Households and the Environment Survey (HES) asks Canadian households about their activities and behaviours with respect to the environment. It covers a wide variety of topics including water and energy consumption and conservation, hazardous products used in the home, and the household's interactions with nature. Data from the survey are used by governments to guide policies and programs, by researchers to learn more about Canadians and by individuals to see how they compare to the rest of the country.

In 2017, the HES surveyed approximately 22,000 households.

The target population of the 2017 HES consisted of households in Canada, excluding households located in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, households located on reserves and in other Aboriginal settlements in the provinces, and households consisting entirely of full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Institutions and households in certain remote regions were also excluded.

First conducted in 1991, the HES was subsequently conducted in 1994, 2006 and every second year starting with 2007. Some of the environmental variables from the first cycle continue to be measured, but many new topics have been introduced over the years.

Contact information

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