What We'll Really Do About Sustainability

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The oldest millennials are just passing 40, but we all remember growing up with some sort of cultural urgency about climate change. Whether your initial touchstone was Save the Whales or Greta Thunberg, chances are you're concerned about the state of the planet going forward. What makes millennials and Gen Z different from their elders is that we're willing to get holistic about it.

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Researchers from Japan's Hiroshima University have just released a study on environmentally friend behaviors and habits in young adults. It's focused on achieving so-called Sustainable Development Goals, which the United Nations has set for the year 2030. The research team "provide[s] novel evidence that the younger generation preferred a sustainable lifestyle [more] than the older generation. And younger people are willing to dispense income to work for SDG-minded companies."

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In other words, millennial and Gen Z consumers not only put their money where their mouths are when it comes to spending (e.g., being willing to pay more for sustainably developed and produced products), we're more inclined to seek employment with companies and organizations that make sustainability part of their DNA.

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Of course, it is important to note that "going green" and other buzzy phrases can sound exciting but fall apart under scrutiny. One of the best things you can do to support sustainability is just to buy less stuff. But we don't necessarily need big changes in our daily routines to contribute to a more environmentally supportive world. And it shouldn't take accepting a lower salary, which study participants said they'd do in droves, to push businesses and economies into a better future.

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