What your age means for your sustainability choices


When honing your sustainability hustle, it is important to bear in mind whom you are targeting and when they were born. The environment within which they grew up hugely influences their take on sustainability.*


Take Gen Z – they have grown up in a world of conflict, political change, economic crisis, and increased awareness of environmental and social issues.  Many hold the generations preceding them culpable for the state of the world as it is today, and firmly believe that change is needed, and that they need to make responsible choices. The sustainability agenda is broad for them. So whether it’s using Ecosia as their search engine (which helps to plant trees) or moving to zero waste personal care brands like Ethique, when making sustainable choices, they want to choose brands that are proactive, and have a measurable impact. You need to talk to them in hard facts and figures, no greenwashing. For them sustainable brands must provide numbers, proof points and innovation that solves problems.


Let’s move on to young Millennials.  Aged 25-35, their focus is turning inwards as they begin to settle down, make home, build families, strive ahead in their careers. Their sustainability narrative is about participation in doing the right thing and embracing it as part of their lifestyle. Whether it’s choosing an ethical nut butter like Pip and Nut with a passion-led founder story behind it, or shopping from H&M Conscious to mitigate their impact, they are looking for bigger picture purpose led brands that rethink manufacturing and processes to become more sustainable.


Finally, let’s take a look at those older Millennials and younger Gen X (35-45).  Having grown up in a world of fast-consumerism, but now educated by Seaspiracy, David Attenborough and their kids, they are aware of the big picture issues around biodiversity, plastics and climate change.  They want to forge a better future for their kids but are often time- and budget-poor. They admit to being full of contradictions such as parking their gas-guzzling SUV to pick-up free-range eggs, or nipping into the supermarket to buy cheap clothes for their holidays. For many, they want brands to help them minimise their impact on people and planet. They may go off the rails from time to time, so any helping hand that can be given to make choices easier are appreciated. They like it when they see brands that have grown up with like McDonalds making better choices by removing plastics from their Happy Meals.


*Health warning – this article shows generational differences as opposed to segmenting people on their attitudes to sustainability or how sustainability-forward they are, and does not refer to the LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) as coined by Paul Ray for example.