Sustainability is not a trend anymore – it’s a movement that has become the reality. There has been many initiatives so far that has brought this concept into light; one of them is the development of the B Corp certification.
While the older generations, such as boomers or Gen X are not as much involved in the transition towards sustainability, Millennials and Gen Z show a changing pattern of their lifestyles. That is why the products offered by the B Corp certified companies have been more attractive lately to the market dominated by the young.
WHY ONLY MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z?
Effects of globalization
It’s no secret that the younger generations have it easier with technology. That is why we are more prone to the effects of globalization. Being constantly exposed to social media, news, internet, etc. we absorb more information than boomers or Gen X.
This creates a feeling of concern for what is going on around the world. The views of wildfires in Australia, floods in Senegal, or droughts in the Sahel region, are all affecting our minds.
What are we worried about?
First of all, we are worried about the state of our planet. With the destruction of the natural habitat comes loss of biodiversity that is not only tragic but also terrifying. What makes the world beautiful is that it’s diverse; we can admire the wildness of the Amazonian forest or the calmness of the Saharan dessert. Without diversity, the world is not only unappealing but also boring. As a Gen Z representant myself I am unwilling to live in such world.
Secondly, we feel bad for the others, who suffer from the effects of global warming. For instance, those who live in Europe (including me), are not affected as much by climate change as people who live in South America, Australia, or Africa. But because of globalization, we are able to witness those events as if we were there – only that we don’t go through them. And so many of us feel empathetic. As we imagine how it would be if it was us who would have to put up with such challenges, we feel bad for the others. And because we are more exposed to social media than other generations we feel it more than others.
The feeling of responsibility
Another factor that drives us towards sustainability is the feeling of responsibility. The current situation is left up to us and it cannot be ignored. With summers being hotter every year and snow almost not falling anymore during winter, the young can witness with their own eyes what is going on. As we are the future of this planet, we have developed a strong urge to do something about it and a firm sense of responsibility to fix the situation.
Furthermore, we think about the future generations as well. We want our children to live in a better world, where the environment as well as the people are safe, happy, and healthy. We feel responsible not only for ourselves but also for the ones who are going to come after us.
However, it can get overwhelming…
While, we can notice a growing initiative of Millenials and Gen Z striving to become more sustainable, there needs to be more motivation for us to actually give up spending money on easy to access and cheap products which are not necessarily good for the environment nor for the people. Some might feel frustrated that it’s us who have to sacrifice our money, time, and energy for such actions. This can get overwhelming overtime and therefore the young need to be convinced that such decisions are right.
HOW TO MOTIVATE YOUNG GENERATIONS TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE COMPANIES?
One way of convincing us to work for or purchase from sustainable companies, such as those with B Corp certification, is to be crystal clear about how the company functions. We all know that actions speak louder than words, and so sharing this information with consumers shows that being sustainable is actually possible and achievable and that if only you are motivated enough you can do anything.
Make it interesting
Another way to persuade us to get involved in sustainability through our work or spending habits is to make it interesting. It is a fact that young people (especially Gen Z) get bored really fast. That is why it is important to make sustainability fun – something that they will enjoy. Whether these are events, workshops or just convivial atmosphere, it can change a lot when it comes to our attitude.
Feeling that it all ‘makes sense’
No one likes to do something without a meaning behind it. A good result is like a reward – it’s satisfying and shows that the hard work actually paid off. That is why, companies need to show their consumers or future employees that what they do makes sense. If we can see that the work is not meaningless and that it influences others and the environment in a positive way, we are more likely to work at a certain company. The same goes for the spending patterns. B Corp certification is always a good sign for us that assures us that with our money we are supporting the right people with the right intentions.
Young people see the problems of the current state of the world and are ready to make a change. Over time we have developed certain expectations regarding the products that are offered to us and the working conditions that are present. As the mindsets and expectations of younger generations keep on changing it might be time for companies to adapt to this change faster and to evolve along with them. The only thing that has to be done is to simply get started.
By Zuzanna Zalega.