Millennials and Generation Z (Gen Z) are actively demonstrating that they have the will, knowledge, and capacity, to promote lasting positive change for our environment more than all other generations before them. According to the Nielsen 2017 Total Audience Report, Millennials, ages 21-37, and Gen Z, ages 2-20, now make up nearly half of the United States’ population, accounting for 48% of all people. Their consumer behavior and lifestyle choices differ from those of previous generations in a variety of ways, especially as it relates to the importance they place on sustainability and “green living.”
This is generating an effect on all aspects of our society, from changes in product and service offerings targeting customers, to workplace environments provided by employers, to investments that are made by academic institutions.
3 in 4 Millennials and Gen Z’s are willing to pay extra for sustainable product offerings, according to the Nielsen Sustainability Imperative. The power in consumer behavior and demand as it relates to sustainability has become an increasingly important topic, especially due to the fact that, “for those willing to pay more, environmentally friendly and social value are top purchase drivers.” A Forbes article on big brands aligning themselves with the eco-values of younger consumers wrote:
“Long gone are the days when big brands could hide behind clever marketing campaigns that made it seem like they stood for something important. Today's younger generations are smarter than that and take pride in knowing which brands aren't just talking the talk, but are walking the walk. Companies are being forced to change their approach when it comes to marketing to millennials and generation z consumers.”
In response to this clear consumer demand, huge influencer brands are transitioning their operations, and therefore their products, to more sustainable models by switching to renewables. Microsoft bought its biggest wind-power purchase last year of 237 megawatts of capacity from projects in Kansas and Wyoming, with about 44% of their electricity coming from wind and solar last year. Google says that it is now “the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world,” and that for 2017 all of its energy will be coming from 100% renewable wind and solar farms.
Since Millennials have recently grown larger than Generation X as the biggest generation in the U.S. labor force, it is essential for any company to know what they desire in an employer. 9 in 10 millennials say it is important to work for a sustainably conscious company, and 1 in 10 Millennials said they would quit their jobs if they discovered that their employer was by no means sustainable.
According to Masdar’s Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey, 59% of the Gen Z population is interested in working or studying in an area that is somehow related to sustainability. The demand for environmental concern in the office has grown among these younger and future employees, which has pushed companies into adopting better eco-practices in every aspect possible.
Unilever, which owns more than 400 brands in 190 countries, has a clear purpose: “to make sustainable living commonplace.” CEO Paul Polman has spoken in depth on Unilever’s Sustainable Business Model and has clearly outlined strategies for making sustainability a “part of the DNA” in any big business. Unilever’s model is successfully working to make the company environmentally driven on a genuine level and has motivated employees above all expectations. A recent Gallup poll on global positive employee engagement in their workplace averaged in at 13%. Unilever employees came in at an 80% average with feeling this desire to speak positively about their workplace.
Holding Leaders Accountable
This demand for sustainability isn’t just limited to young adults buying consumer goods or going to work. 80% of Gen Z believes current leaders around the world have not done enough to protect the environment, also according to Masdar’s survey. Additionally, over 80% believe that governments need to invest more into renewable energy sources. Luckily, many are beginning to step up and pave the way for the people they serve.
In our colleges and universities, the call for implementing sustainable values is being heard as well. Students enrolled in hundreds of academic institutions in the U.S. have pushed administrators into stepping away from fossil fuels. To date, 600 colleges and universities are now members of the Climate Leadership Network, working to achieve carbon-neutral goals going forward.
And, Pope Francis, one of the most cherished and followed figures in the world, has voiced his opinions about the dangers of climate change. He has urged other leaders to make sustainability commitments around the world since he stepped into his position in 2013.
In every corner of the planet, companies that hire employees, sell products, or provide services, as well as leaders in every capacity, are feeling the pressure from young people to make the world a more sustainable place. It is now evident that Millennials and Gen Z are creating positive environmental change from the bottom up, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
CleanChoice Energy works to fight climate change by supplying 100% renewable energy from wind and solar power to our customers. Our mission from day one has been to make clean energy accessible to everybody. Learn how you can make the switch to renewable energy today.