Don't malign the millenials; The kids are alright

woamn on bike
CC BY 2.0 FaceMePLS on Flickr

The press release for new study from advertising agency DBB starts with a boldface grabber:

This generation, one known for breaking down societal norms, is leading the way when it comes to forward thinking behavior and attitudes. However, when it comes to being environmentally friendly, Millennials are talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

The press release goes on to suggest that Boomers are significantly more likely to recycle everything they possibly can, separate recyclables from the rest of the trash and use reusable grocery bags as much as possible. In his interpretation of this study, Joel Makower of Greenbiz says:

Abandon hope, all ye who read on.

ddb© DDB

I disagree. I asked DBB for a copy of the full study and they declined to release it, but did send me an executive summary. I think it tells a very different story.

For one thing, why this obsession with recycling? It is one of the few items where there is a significant difference between boomers and millennials, most of whom live in apartments rather than houses and don't have access to good recycling facilities, separate pickups and storage. Recycling is bullshit anyways, just a way for the big corporations to shift their corporate responsibility to the consumer and the taxpayer. Far more important is reducing consumption of disposables and guess what, the millennials are far more likely to use a refillable container than a disposable one.

Then there are the questions about the perhaps the most important environmental question of our time, the use of the car. Which they don't ask. Sure, it is great that millennials drive twice as many hybrids and seven times as many electric cars as the boomers, but the real issue is that they are giving up on cars, cycling more and cruising the internet instead of the main drag.

housing demandUrban Land Institute/via

Whether by choice or necessity, the millennials are also living in smaller spaces, tend to favor walkable communities with transit. They are more willing to accept a lower standard of living to save the planet and three quarters of them actually believe global warming exists.

So lets lose this silly fixation on the fact that boomers are better recyclers and look at the bigger picture: Millennials are walking the walk instead of driving the drive. The data show it: The kids are alright.

Don't malign the millenials; The kids are alright
An Earth Day survey is being used to attack millenials as green slackers and pat the boomers on the back. That's not what the data say.

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