May 19, 2010 06:00 ET

Canadians Choose Driving Over Sex and Candy

WWF-Canada Survey Reveals Canadians Are More Likely to Give Up Junk Food, Sex and Coffee Before Their Cars; New Campaign Encourages People to Try Active, Sustainable Transportation

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 19, 2010) - The driving paradox: more than three-quarters (78 per cent) of Canadians know their driving has a negative environmental impact, but they are not likely to give up their vehicles even when they could easily use other forms of transportation (75 per cent). In fact, Canadians are more willing to give up their cell phones, TVs, Internet access, coffee, junk food, credit cards and for some, even sex, before they set aside their car keys. 

It's time we challenged our unhealthy relationship with our cars. In Canada, transportation accounts for almost 30 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions – the main cause of climate change. Finding sustainable alternatives to driving, even if only a few times a week, can have a tremendous positive impact on the environment and people's health. Through a creative and engaging public awareness campaign, WWF-Canada will ask people to drive less for just one week by highlighting the personal and environmental benefits. By showing it can be easier and more beneficial than Canadians realize to leave the car at home, WWF-Canada hopes to inspire Canadians to rethink their driving habits throughout the year.

"I used to drive everywhere," says Tiffany Bourré, reformed gas guzzler. "In December I gave up my car to cut costs, but was worried about the inconvenience it would cause. I was surprised to discover how convenient transit turned out to be - often it was even faster than driving. I've even started biking to work now which is great for the planet, and for me."

From May 31-June 6, WWF-Canada is running Pin It for the Planet, a campaign encouraging Canadians to shake up their car routine and use active, sustainable ways to go about daily travels to work, shop, school and play. WWF's goal is to get as many people as possible out of their car, and then, as a sign of their commitment to the environment, are encouraged to wear their car key pinned to their lapel to signify their action and spark conversation with others.

"Taking transit, walking, or cycling are healthy and convenient alternatives to taking the car," says Gerald Butts, President and CEO, WWF Canada. "No matter where we live in Canada, we can all find ways to reduce our dependency on cars – to save money, improve our health, and help the planet. If every Canadian left their car at home just one day a week, we would save about 4.86 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of taking about 800,000 cars off the road for a year."

The Statistics:

According to WWF-Canada's national survey:

  • Only 1 per cent of Canadians would be willing to give up their cars. We'd rather go without:
    • Junk food (36 per cent)
    • Credit cards (15 per cent)
    • Cell phones (15 per cent)
    • Coffee (14 per cent)
    • Internet (7 per cent)
    • TV (6 per cent)
    • Sex (2 per cent)
  • Three in four Canadians (76 per cent) admit they will drive even if they could walk, bike or take public transportation

The Numbers:

  • Approximately 70-80 per cent of Canadians regularly drive to work.(i)
  • Transportation is responsible for 27 per cent of Canada's GHG emissions, with passenger vehicles accounting for half of this total.(ii)
  • Regular driving costs the climate and the pocketbook. According to the Canadian Automobile Association, driving a mid-sized sedan 18,000 km/year costs on average more than $8,440 in fuel, maintenance and other operational costs. Driving a mini-van costs over $11,200.

The Benefits of Leaving the Car at Home:

  • Helps The Planet – Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada which contributes to climate change and poor air quality.
  • Better For Your Health – Getting out of the car is great exercise, especially if you are walking or biking, and helps keep our air cleaner.
  • Saves Money – Driving is expensive especially when you consider rising gas prices, parking tickets, repairs, insurance, etc.
  • Reduces Stress – Commuting to and from work and sitting in traffic is a huge stress.

How to Get Involved

From May 31 – June 6, Canadians are encouraged to try using sustainable, active transport instead of using the car. Participants can find more information and also win great prizes online at www.wwf.ca

About WWF-Canada

WWF-Canada (World Wildlife Fund Canada) is a member of WWF, one of the world's largest independent conservation organizations, active in more than 100 countries. WWF is creating solutions to the most serious conservation challenges facing our planet, helping people and nature to thrive. In Canada, we create solutions to conservation issues important to Canadians and the world. WWF-Canada works collaboratively with governments, businesses and the public to help fight climate change, the single biggest environmental threat to our planet; conserve our oceans and freshwater resources; and educate and mobilize people to build a conservation culture. For more information, visit wwf.ca.

About the Survey

The telephone survey was conducted by Toronto-based Research House on behalf of WWF-Canada between April 16-21, 2010. The survey was conducted among a national random sample of 2,002 adults comprising 1,002 males and 1,000 females 18 years of age and older, living in Canada. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 2.19%, 19 times out of 20. Among those who drive regularly the number of respondents was 1,589. Based on this sample size the margin of error is +/-2.46%, 19 times out of 20.

(i) http://www4.hrsdc.gc.ca/.3ndic.1t.4r@-eng.jsp?iid=67#M_4

(ii) Environment Canada

This news release and associated material can be found on wwf.ca

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