Robert Medigovich, the Municipal Accounts Manager for Community Waste Disposal and a speaker at EarthX2018, shared an incredible story at the 2018 EarthxRecycling conference. Medigovich said, “When I first started my career in recycling, I was working with the city of Lubbock. I was trying to get West Texas to recycle and it was a bit of a challenge. We were doing aluminum recycling and this gentleman showed up at my office the next day and said ‘You know, you’ve made my Sundays horrible!’”

“When I said ‘Well, how’s that?’ he replied, ‘Well, I don’t believe in that recycling stuff, but my daughter is telling me to recycle to make her environment better for tomorrow. So now I have to watch the Cowboys lose plus recycle the doggone aluminum can!’ So that’s the point: he was going to recycle not because we asked him to, but because his daughter thought it was the right thing to do.”

Although parents often think of raising their kids to be environmentally-conscious as their responsibility, many are finding that it’s the other way around; children are helping and encouraging parents to be more environmentally conscious. Whether the prospect of an uncertain future affects them directly, or it’s being taught in school, or even if it is simply a generational difference, the world is experiencing a new trend of youth becoming environmental stewards.

Debbie Easterling’s article “Environmental Consumerism: A Process of Children’s Socialization and Families’ Resocialization” reports “One of the possible outcomes of children’s concern for the environment is that they may become catalysts for family environmental consumerism.” She argues that in the same way children often influence their parents’ purchasing decisions, they can also influence how environmentally conscious they are. In a study done by Howard Schlossberg in 1992, he found that parents, in response to questions asking if their kids had change their purchasing habits for environmental reasons, responded that 24% of them recycled, 17% avoided products in certain containers, and 5% conserved energy and resources.

Beyond younger children, many teenagers, young adults, Millennial and Generation Z’s all have bold opinions and are standing up for the environment in powerful ways.

In a recent Google survey, Tesla was listed as one of the “coolest” companies to teens. According to UK Business Insider, Generation Z has officially become more likely to try and commit to a vegetarian or vegan diet than a Millennial, and Global sales of plant-based meat are expected to top $5.2 billion by 2020. Fuse Marketing claims that 85% of Generation Z is likely to purchase from a brand that supports a social cause over a brand that does not.

The younger generations care about the environment, and they are putting their money where their mouths are. And they are encouraging others to step up, as well.

As our Earth’s population continues to grow and our capacity for energy usage and pollution grows as well, it is incredibly important that the younger generations stand up to fight for the environment. After all, it’s their future home, too.