Are millennials ruining the environment - or saving it?

| 20th April 2018
Millennials helping the environment

Millennials have proved willing to adapt their lives to more eco-friendly living in order to protect the health of the planet.

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Millennials are criticised for being selfish and entitled, but many are leading the way with the current eco-friendly trends. From owning tiny houses to eco-friendly tourism, millennials are proving to be an environmentally-conscious generation, writes EMILY FOLK

The ever-increasing reach of social media has spawned a new era of online activism that includes a movement toward sustainable, eco-friendly living.

Some older generations view millennials through a less-than-favourable lens. They might consider them self-centred, obsessed with technology, unwilling to conform to societal norms — or maybe all of the above.

But this view of millennials isn’t necessarily accurate or fair. Take, for example, the steps millennials have taken to ensure the environment remains healthy for many years to come.

It’s hard to argue current eco-friendly trends — see: tiny houses and thrift store shopping — stem largely from 20- and 30-somethings. But does that outweigh some of the potentially harmful habits of millennials?

Sustainable Living

If you stack up the facts, it does. People in this age group are making great strides to reclaim the earth and keep it healthy for future generations. Read on to learn how millennials are saving the environment.

Just check out the Instagram feed of any 20-something, and it’ll quickly become clear millennials love to travel the world. Perhaps that’s why they want to preserve it. Unlike previous generations, which largely preferred to stay close to home, millennials understand how far-reaching their actions are on the globe because they’ve seen and appreciated more of it.

Many advances in modes of transportation have made it easier than ever for millennials to both explore and appreciate the world, which leads them toward focusing more on eco-tourism.

Millennials also love anything that’s trending. And right now, all things eco-friendly are bang on-trend. Reusable grocery bags, upcycled home décor and thrifted clothing are all trending topics that have made a tremendous impact on the way millennials live.

Positive habits like these can become a seismic shift when an entire generation starts to practice them, and that’s the direction millennials are starting to head.

More and more millennials have made substantial changes to their lifestyles to create and sustain a healthier earth. For instance, many 20-somethings have embraced a vegan lifestyle. By eliminating animal products from their diet, vegan eaters help reduce their negative impact on the earth.

The cultivation of plant-based food uses less fuel and creates less carbon than animal products — by a long shot. This shift in lifestyle is indicative of a larger change in millennials’ point of view in general.

Social Outreach

Millennials aren’t afraid to stand up to fight for what they believe in. They’re willing to march against an initiative they don’t believe in, environmentally related or otherwise.

They’re committed not only to voting, but also to voting consciously for politicians who share their belief that the earth is a precious asset. This willingness to go up against longstanding systems makes millennials the perfect advocate for nature, and certainly a vocal one, particularly on social platforms.

Although older generations may see the Internet as something that gets in the way of real human interaction, millennials have a much different outlook. They rally around issues using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and even Snapchat.

The ever-increasing reach of social media has spawned a new era of online activism that includes a movement toward sustainable, eco-friendly living. It’s easy for millennials to share the ways they’re living sustainably and get new ideas from fellow eco-minded friends.

If you’re still not convinced that millennials are moving toward real, measurable change, just look at what the generation has already accomplished. Consider projects like Reforest Sri Lanka, led by young MBA students.

Food to fashion

It took them only 10 months to plant more than 26,000 trees in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, in the US, online platform iMatterNow has been spurring change. It encourages young people to take action regarding environmental policy or, at the very least, to get informed.

These are just a few of the collective ways millennials have started pushing for a lasting shift in the way the world operates. There are also some movements that aren’t formally organized, and therefore fly under the radar.

For instance, millennials tend to spend their dollars on products from environmentally conscious companies. This trend is directly affecting the way big companies market their goods and services. Many have even added pages to their websites that lay out their policies on sustainability.

With millennials making so many moves to help nature not only survive, but thrive, it’s clear this generation has no ill will toward the environment.

To the contrary, they’re seizing the opportunity to be the generation that makes a real long-lasting change in terms of eco-friendly living. As trends continue to move toward sustainability, in everything from food to fashion, you can expect millennials to only grow in their collective strength.

Watch out for ways young people will change the world in years to come!

This Author

Emily Folk is a conservation and sustainability writer and the editor of Conservation Folks.

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