Generations xyz and the climate

There is a consensus in science that younger generations will have to fear significantly more extreme weather in the future than was the case for their grandparents. Read more in the article: Extreme weather: Young generations will be particularly affected in the future

Accordingly, how well we can counteract warming now is particularly relevant to the lives of Generation Z and the following Generation Alpha. This is one of the reasons why some young people are calling for the voting age to be lowered to 16 years old. Here’s how they can use their voices for climate protection, even under the age of 18.

Given the growing threat to younger generations, it also seems unsurprising that younger people in particular are more affected by climate anxiety than their elders. They are more concerned about the consequences of global warming. This fear can paralyze or motivate activism. Increased climate anxiety in Generation Z may also explain the worldwide spread of the young Fridays for Future movement. But how do the different ways of dealing with and viewing the climate affect the behavior of the generations??

Even though Generation Z often has to face these accusations: In Germany, they don't fly more than older generations

Where does the Fridays-for-Future Generation Z stand on flying now?? Finally, older people often accuse younger generations of skipping school for climate protection, but then flying to Australia anyway. For example, Markus Soder commented in BR in 2019: "Munich Airport is currently reporting record numbers of young people flying, so never before have [there] been so many young people flying. But at the same time, they say flying is bad."

According to BR, the number of young air travelers under 29 (i.e., Generation Z) actually increased the most of any age group from 2008 to 2017. These values refer to flights departing from Germany. Nonetheless, there are increasing numbers of people flying in all age groups. In addition, 30- to 49-year-olds (Generation X and Y) represented the largest share of German air travelers in 2017, at 38.8 percent.

The generations and their consumer behavior

When it comes to consumer behavior, there are sometimes very different findings for the different generations. A study by the management consultancy O&C Strategy Consultants from 2019 surveyed 1024 Proband:innen of Generation Z for this purpose. However, the responses were less climate-friendly than might have been expected: Only 16 percent committed to reducing individual waste, and only 11 percent said the same for plastic waste. This corresponds to eight to 13 percentage points less compared to previous generations.

In addition, 18 percent are willing to reduce their carbon footprint and 17 percent pay attention to the sustainability and ethical standards behind the product when making a purchase. However, this is still better than the average of previous generations.

Our 2017 Utopia study on conscious consumption paints a different picture. The study shows that while Millennials, and to some extent Post-Millennials, are big consumers and like to try new things, they are also responsible shoppers. They are well-informed thanks to Internet sources and have high ethical standards when making purchases. They also see consumption as a political instrument.

Generations Y and Z consider it more important than all other age groups to live in a way that does not cause (indirect) harm to others. Therefore, among younger respondents, willingness to pay a higher financial price for more sustainable products was particularly high. You can read more about this here: Utopia study published: This is what makes the conscious consumer tick

According to the Utopia study, generations Y and Z do particularly well when it comes to meat consumption: every second person surveyed between the ages of 14 and 29 eats vegetarian or vegan food. Among baby boomers, this affects only one in four people.

According to an article in Die Zeit, Generation X and baby boomers have fewer of these linguistic labels, but they generally eat less meat than people in their 20s and 30s. Among Generation Z’s 18- to 24-year-olds, 61 percent reported eating meat several times a week. Among 25- to 34-year-olds (Generation Y), this even affected 64 percent. For the over-55s, on the other hand, the figure was only 44 percent.

With a total of nine percent, the proportion of vegetarians and vegans is also highest among 18- to 24-year-olds, according to Zeit. In addition, almost half of respondents in this age group support a weekly veggie day in canteens.

Dealing with clothing

There are also differences between X, Y and Z when it comes to their approach to clothing

In 2015, Greenpeace surveyed 1011 people between the ages of 18 and 69 on how they deal with clothing and shoes. According to the results, there are hardly any differences in the number of items of clothing. However, it is higher among baby boomers at 98 percent than among 18- to 29-year-olds at 92 percent. But how do the generations deal with their clothing? Throw them away immediately once something is broken?

  • The percentage of those who have their broken shoes repaired at the cobbler’s now and then was highest among baby boomers. In the 18 to 29 age group, the proportion was particularly low at only 41 percent.
  • Generation Z and Y also do poorly when it comes to repairing broken clothes. Here, too, they make up the highest proportion of those who have never repaired broken clothing themselves, at 48 percent. The figures for the other age groups are relatively close in this category: around 38 to 43 percent of them made the same statement.
  • The situation is different for Second-Hand-Merchandise out: In fact, 60- to 69-year-olds fared the worst here. 66 percent have never bought used clothing. The 40 to 49-year-olds (Generation X/Y) have the lowest value in this respect at 47 percent.

The interim conclusion: baby boomers are more likely to repair clothes and shoes, and Generation Z and Y are more inclined to buy used clothing. Both are climate-friendly and resource-saving measures, which we should ideally combine with each other in order to Fast fashion to counteract. It should also be noted that the study does not indicate to what extent and how often the respondents buy new clothing or give used clothing away.

The climate crisis threatens virtually all aspects of human life – from housing and food to our health. But she meets..

Conclusion: Climate crisis as a generation conflict?

Now, is there really a gap between generations in terms of climate protection and is the Climate crisis in this sense also a generation conflict? Finally, the different ways of dealing with the climate seems to be a contentious issue in families as well: Young people accuse baby boomers of destroying the environment and now leaving younger ones to deal with the consequences alone. The older generations, on the other hand, often seem to consider the demands of the youth to be out of touch with reality and resist the accusations and demanded changes.

While this may be true in part, we should not elevate the climate crisis to a general generational conflict. It is important that we all pull together on this challenge – no matter which generation we belong to. Therefore, we should stop blaming each other, but overcome age barriers, listen to each other and look for solutions together. Because we can only face the climate crisis together.

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