Are millennials sustainable? That is the question.
Millennials and their even younger counterparts in Generation Z have an unearned reputation as being overly materialistic consumers, but why and how? Millennials might be more likely to travel than older and younger generations but given that many of these travellers are doing so on a budget, it shouldn’t be perceived as an extravagance. Of course, plane travel arguably creates a large amount of pollution, but there are other ways these young nomads might be off setting their carbon footprints.
In fact, millennials (those currently aged between 22 and 35, depending on who you ask) are actually far more likely to shop ethically, eat more locally-sourced food and adopt a vegan diet. Indeed, according to Fiona Dyer, a consumer analyst at Global Data, ‘the shift toward plant-based foods is being driven by millennials, who are most likely to consider the food source, animal welfare issues, and environmental impacts when making their purchasing decision’s.
This rise of green consumerism amongst the younger generations is indicative of a wider shift in perceptions towards what it means to ‘live green’. Veganism is very en vogue right now, with January 2019 seeing a significant increase in the annual ‘Veganuary’ movement. Plastic straws are also being slowly phased out by countless major restaurant chains, which chimes neatly with the fact that half of all digital consumers say that environmental concerns directly impact their purchases.
When asked if they would pay more for eco-friendly products, 61 per cent of millennials also say they would willingly do so, whilst only 46 per cent of baby boomers said likewise. Many older millennials are even starting to grow their own veg at home and live off the land on a completely plant-based diet. This involves investing in polytunnels and irrigation systems that require a lot of knowledge to install and operate.
Eco-friendly products are not only better for the environment but they are generally better for your health too, and with an increasingly health-obsessed younger generation, that might also explain why they are jumping on board the eco bandwagon in greater numbers and with greater voracity. This surely shatters the illusion that millennials are lazy or refuse to be sustainable?
So, if younger generations are more ethically minded, why do they have this reputation of being entitled and wasteful? Which is simply not true. It might have something to do with the ‘throwaway culture’ that has developed over the past few decades, but the truth is that tech-savvy young consumers are that much more likely to invest in sustainable products and sustainable brands.
Currently, millennials make up around 25 per cent of the world’s population and 84 per cent of them believe it is their responsibility to change the world for the better by living greener and more responsibly. This is the kind of generation we need if the generations that follow them are to stand a real chance at making it to the next millennium.