Breaking: Millennials Think About Climate Change Differently Than Anyone Else

Photo by Saptak Ganguly

When it comes to easing climate change, a lot of the onus is placed on millennials. Considering environmental issues garnered mainstream attention as they were growing up, and their future is less certain than that of generations past, it makes sense that 20- and 30-somethings are tasked with such a big responsibility. But are they up for the challenge?

A new study asked thousands of millennials how they're taking action on environmental issues, and their answers were a mixed bag. While millennials are reportedly less inclined to take small personal actions like recycle, ditch plastic water bottles, and adjust the thermostat to save energy, they are significantly more likely to support companies that they perceive to have strong environmental values. The Shelton Group, the eco-minded market research firm behind the study, has an interesting theory as to why this is.

"Millennials are worried about the future, and they're looking outward from their own abilities to effect change to see who else can help them make it happen better and faster," Lee Ann Head, director of proprietary research for Shelton Group, told mbg.

Millennials are fervent believers that climate change is an issue that needs to be dealt with, and 82 percent of them are concerned about how it will influence their children's quality of life. But for many, this concern seems to have morphed into a slight helplessness. Nowadays, millennials are doubting their ability to make a dent in such a huge issue and are instead choosing to support companies that have a larger perceived impact.

Therefore, they seek out companies that value environmental stewardship and employee treatment practices, even going so far as to prioritize these values above their product's efficiency. According to data, young people are skeptical of many large corporations, but once they find one they trust, they put a lot of faith into it. Some of their top picks for eco-minded companies include Patagonia, Whole Foods, Tesla, and The Honest Company. The Shelton Group plans to share these findings with other Fortune 500 companies in the hopes of encouraging them to develop more outward-facing environmental initiatives that will benefit both their business and the planet.

"Consumers have a loud voice with corporations, and corporations have the opportunity to win consumers’ loyalty by aligning with their values," Head explains. When asked if these corporate initiatives have the capacity to overcome a lack of engagement on a personal level, she was more hesitant. "We believe you have to do both." When conscious consumption meets sustainable action, results are sure to follow.

Check out the full report here, and read up on this a primer on how to use the psychology of climate change to reframe your perspective.

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