The UK has become more environmentally conscious in recent years. In fact, the global pandemic encouraged people to become more sustainable, and 36 per cent of consumers report supporting companies that are environmentally friendly. But where do Gen Z fit into this?
Reconomy, a leading supplier of sustainable waste management solutions, explores how the younger generations are influencing businesses to be more environmentally conscious and how your business can lead the way for a brighter tomorrow.
What does Gen Z think?
The increasing interest in sustainability has created a space for young people to campaign for continued action against climate change. And thanks to the powerhouse voices of Greta Thunberg, Vanessa Nakate, and Mya-Rose Craig, Gen Z has become the generation of sustainable activists.
According to a survey by Bupa, 63 per cent of Gen Z and millennial respondents reported feeling the burden of climate change, compared to only 37 per cent of Gen X and 28 per cent of baby boomers. This could be a result of powerful media coverage that has raised awareness of the damage being caused by our behaviour. Firstly, Blue Planet in 2017, then the WWF advert, ‘Fight for Your World’, which resonated deeply with many, stating that this is the first generation to know that we are destroying the world and the last to do anything about it.
These values have gone on to influence the individual behaviours of older generations. And, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte, 39 per cent of adults reduced the number of new goods they bought between 2020-2021 as a result of the values of Gen Z and millennials.
How has this affected businesses?
Individual behaviours cannot be solely responsible for reversing the negative effects of global warming. As a result, people are looking beyond individual factors by holding businesses and governments responsible for national and global carbon footprints.
34 per cent actively chose to buy from sustainable brands between 2020-2021. But how do consumers know which brands are sustainable?
Marketing campaigns can be utilised to showcase sustainable products or services. This presents brands as desirable to Gen Z and millennials. However, actions speak louder than words, and delivering results is proving to be just as important as marketing. Sustainability within businesses is itself changing. The commercial landscape for companies is evolving and moving away from a consumptive capitalism approach towards a more regenerative form. Businesses that fail to adapt are likely to face extinction.
The shift in consumer behaviours has also encouraged the growth of the green economy, which was reportedly worth £205.76 billion in 2021. This includes over 75,000 low-carbon businesses, such as recycling plants and wind turbine manufacturers, that prioritise the environment and employ over 1.2 million people across the nation.
How can your business tackle climate change?
More often than not, businesses are taking steps to become more sustainable. On the other hand, sometimes companies are stuck on a transitional path, stalled by individual cost centres that are preventing holistic decision making.
This can often lead to departments making polarising decisions based on the way that their business runs. In these circumstances, companies fail to recognise the full scope of their resource cycle and all of the benefits that come with having a varied approach.
To achieve meaningful progress, businesses should successfully implement sustainable waste management solutions into their culture, structure, and strategy. This might not be implemented straight away for some, although from a procurement perspective, they should be able to make decisions that have a lasting impact on the entire organisation.
This has been a challenge for some businesses until recently, as each unit would procure for their own requirement, and there were not as many comprehensive solutions that could consider the whole resource cycle.
Overall, there’s no doubt that sustainability is taking centre stage. Baby boomers and millennials have paved the way for Gen Z to campaign for current concerns surrounding the speed of climate change. In turn, businesses are being held accountable for their actions, fuelling hope for a future free from the negative effects of global warming.