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City slickers are greener than country cousins

City dwellers are actually greener than people who live in the countryside because peer pressure forces them to recycle and save more energy, a study finds.

Researchers found that people with good jobs found in large cities are most likely to recycle, volunteer for environmental organisations and participate in other "green" initiatives.

This is because they are encouraged by their work colleagues and corporations and are more likely to be threatened by environmental problems.

Scientists at the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) at Michigan State University led the study along with collaborators in the United States and China.

They studied the results of China's General Social Survey which asked if people sorted their rubbish for recycling, talked about environmental issues with family or friends, participated in environmental education programs, volunteered in environmental organisations or took part in environmental litigation.

People who live in large cities showed significantly more green behaviour than people in smaller cities, the analysis concluded.

The cities covered included Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin which are all growing rapidly.

The scientists believe that the city dwellers were more likely to be green because of pressure from colleagues and employers.

They were also more likely to aware of and effected by environmental problems and have the options to do something about them.

"First, people may be affected by peers in their workplace through the diffusion of environmental values," said Xiaodong Chen, lead author.

"Second, some pro-environmental behaviours need facilitating support such as equipment for classifying garbage or social groups who can organise these activities."

"People who were in a job and people who were in a leadership position in their workplace reported more pro-environmental behaviours than people not employed and people in non-leadership positions" regardless of salary.

"You don't have to be rich to consider environmental issues.

"Even if people are poor and their material needs are not as well met, they still consider the environmental quality because those people may be threatened more by environmental problems."

The work was published in the British journal Environmental Conservation.