Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't Count on the Young to Save the Planet

Many believe that the young are more environmentally oriented, but according to new research this is simply not true. A new study suggests that young people are not concerned about the environment. This research has important implications for the planet and for marketers. Not only are younger people unlikely to work towards a more sustainable future they may also be unlikely to use their buying power to invest in that future.

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published findings based on two national surveys of high school seniors and college freshmen that have been taken for more than 40 years. Academic analysis of the surveys shows the so-called Millennial Generation (born after 1982) actually is less interested in the environment and conservation than baby boomers and Gen Xers (born 1962–1981) were at the same age.

As reviewed by Bart King, in a Sustainable Brands article, Millennials are not the environmental saviors that many had hoped for.

Fifteen percent of Millennials said they have made no effort to help the environment, compared to 8 percent of Gen Xers and 5 percent of baby boomers. A total of one third (33 percent) of Baby boomers said it was important to become personally involved in programs to clean up the environment, while only a quarter (25 percent) of Gen Xers and even few Millenials (21 percent) shared that view.

In terms of the percentage who said they had made an effort to conserve electricity and fuel used to heat their homes, 78 percent of Baby boomers said they do so, along with 71 percent of Gen Xers. However only 56 percent of Millennials indicated they had made an effort to more efficiently heat their homes.

Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor and one of the study's authors told AP that Millennials lack of environmental interest is a reflection of the predominant view of the prevailing culture.

Earlier this year Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited commissioned the Millennial Survey 2011, which found Millennials place greater emphasis on the potential of business to solve some of the greatest societal and environmental challenges.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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