Millennials: Less Recycling, More Eco Purchases

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Only 25 percent of millennials would be embarrassed for someone to find out they don’t recycle, according to a new survey from The Shelton Group, a marketing and research firm focused on energy and the environment. The generation roughly born from the early 1980s to mid-1990s lags behind others in simple green activities like adjusting the thermostat to save energy (33 percent of millennials vs. 48 percent of all Americans) and recycling paper and aluminum cans (34 percent vs. 46 percent overall).

Interestingly, though, millennials are actually more worried about the environment than their personal actions might show. Seventy-six percent are “somewhat to extremely concerned” about the impact climate change will have on their quality of life during their lifetimes, and 82 percent are worried about the impact of climate change on their children’s quality of life. Only 51 percent of the general population said they were anxious about climate change.

So what are millennials doing about these concerns, if not recycling? It turns out they’re talking with their wallets by supporting companies with an eco-friendly ethos.

“Millennials are pushing companies to make a positive impact on the world because they believe global problems are too big for individuals to solve,” said Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of The Shelton Group. “Millennials will reward corporations that take action and address problems for them.”

When asked how much impact a company’s environmental practices have on their decision to purchase its products, 70 percent of Millennials said it was a factor.

“Millennials see spending money with these companies as another form of activism,” Shelton said. “It’s crowdsourcing by consumerism.”

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.