The Millennial Environmentalist

posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The all-knowing Google defined environmentalist as, “a person who is concerned with or advocates for the protection of the environment.”

According to the Pew Research Center, only 32 percent of American millennials (yes, I reject the stereotypes associated with that title as much as you do) identify as environmentalists. The same study shows that our generation overwhelmingly supports environmental issues.

Although millennials are less likely than older generations to identify as Environmentalists, we are overwhelmingly more likely to:

o   Support stricter environmental laws

o   Attribute global warming to human activity

o   Favor energy development and tax incentives for hybrid vehicles

o   Pay more for responsibly sourced products

o   Work for employers who care about their environmental impact

Why does this generation, who seems more environmentally-conscious not embrace the label of “Environmentalist?”

I think we need to reclaim the title and stand proud in our generation’s commitment to sustainability and conservation. In fact, some of the negative stereotypes associated with the millennial generation might contribute to our environmental consciousness.

We are a generation who is labeled as lazy, but we bike to work more than any other age group. We are seeking out walkable communities and opportunities to live driver-less lifestyles.

We are labeled entitled. We feel entitled to clean water, clean energy, and the ability to enjoy our state’s natural resources. These feelings should lead to an urgent need for action. We are keenly aware that, although a healthy environment should be an entitlement, it is not inevitable. We have a deep understanding of the work needed to sustain our world not just for our kids and grandkids but for ourselves.

We are accused of working to live, rather than living to work. From this millennial’s perspective, working to live is not a negative stereotype, but it does represent a different style of work ethic than is valued by other generations. What it means to me is that I place value in my time outside of work. Spending time with my family and friends, serving and enjoying my community are pillars of my life. This gives me a deep sense of responsibility in my family's health and the health of my community. When we learn about threats to our drinking water, I see it as a threat to the health of my son and community. If we, as millennials, are so committed to enjoying the culture and natural resources of our communities, maybe that is what drives us to protect them?Judy

We need more Young Professionals to embrace the Environmentalist label because the environment needs more digitally savvy advocates. The environment needs people who feel that it’s health is an entitlement and not a luxury. The environment needs a generation of champions to fight for a better world with an understanding that change isn’t always easy or pretty.

This is why the IEC is focusing it’s Giving Tuesday on Millennials. We want to make it easy for Young Professionals in Iowa to embrace the label Environmentalist. On Tuesday, November 29, we are offering Young Professionals (Ages 35 and under) a $35 membership to the Council.

If you have a young professional who is passionate about Iowa’s parks, beaches, water health, and sustainable energy in your life, give the gift of an Iowa Environmental Council membership and celebrate the new “Millennial Environmentalist.

  1. clean energy
  2. conservation
  3. sustainability
  4. water quality