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3 Ways Millennials Are Helping the Environment

Many people associate the term millennial with someone young, savagely optimistic and looking to make a difference in the world any chance he or she gets. This last characteristic manifests in a few ways —getting stoked for political activism, advocating social change and improving the environment are all rallying cries for the average millennial.

Environmental improvement, in particular, has taken on a new global fury in the past decade, with millennials spearheading small and large environmental efforts and movements.

Here are a few ways millennials support the growing environmentalist movement:

  1. Consumption

This first one is a little vague, but it makes sense. With the boomers on the way out and most millennials reaching adulthood in the next couple years, this generation will become the dominant market force during the coming decades. While business practices always have an eye for their consumers and will change images accordingly, millennials demand more than that from their companies.

More than any generation prior, millennials support companies that promote environmental awareness and engage in sustainable practices. In the last decade, we’ve undergone a massive shift to corporations perceived as ‘greener’ or ‘more sustainable,’ mostly on the backs of millennials.

For the first time, consumers are reading product labels, purchasing goods based on recyclability and shelling out extra cash in the process.

Given the ferocity with which millennials support environmental conservation and greener practices, this is not a surprising trend. Further, corporations are undoubtedly taking note. Selling a similar product for a markup, by merely using recycled goods or donating a portion to cleanup efforts makes for a very effective market strategy. Expect this pattern to continue for a long time.

  1. Social Media

More than any past generation, millennials have embraced the course of online activism. While previous age groups marched on Washington or organized collectives, the youth of today take to social media, writing personal messages — potentially — seen by millions. Older activists scorn these tactics, equating them to laziness or lack of socialization. However, In a way, online activism is more efficient and more effective than any more traditional forms.

Namely, the average millennial builds a more robust social network than any other age group. This means more views for their posts, most of whom are also young and well-connected. The concept of ‘going viral’ is impossible to visualize by pre-internet generations. While there are no hundred-thousand strong marches on the Capital, millions of unique viewers read the same posts daily.

With all this, you can bet the young, well-connected generation is talking about the things they’re most interested in — politics, social trends and the environment. It’s hard to assess exactly how much work social media has done in moving the climate change debate and pro-environmental movement forward, but one thing is clear: Social media is a magnificent tool for organizing and getting the word out to millions on short notice.

  1. Lifestyle

Tying the two earlier points together, the millennial lifestyle is often one geared toward conservation and activism. Going beyond just buying recycled and recyclable goods, millennials are leading the push for renewable energy sources and greener homes in a way that fundamentally impact their lifestyles.

Beyond tweeting and posting about environmental rallies or recent, relevant legislation, they are developing a social means for resisting the consumer culture. Friends go thrift shopping together, and some of the more motivated groups look up or organize events to voice their environmental concerns.

Still, others go so far as prioritizing new and efficient means for avoiding the standard fossil-fuel energy options. Personal solar energy solutions dramatically increased in the past decade, mostly as a result of millennial preference and interest. More homes bolt panels on their roofs and siding every year, and personal turbines in country backyards are not a rare sight.

The Environment

It’s no secret the environment is doing poorly. Global climate change seems inevitable, and its exact impact is uncertain. We need to change certain aspects of our lifestyle and habits to ensure a better future for the youngsters.

It’s also no secret that there’s a lot of ridicule directed toward the millennial lifestyle. Older generations see the lifestyle aspect of millennial activism as a watered-down alternative to the old school street protests.

On the contrary, though. Environmentally-friendly lifestyle changes are exactly what we need to focus on today. If we can make recycling and composting a global pattern, our trash mountains might shrink. Turning environmental protests social and sexy can instill a sense of activism in everyone, not just those directly affected. What may seem foolish and preening today lays the groundwork for legitimate social movement in years to come.

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