By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

You know those righteous 20-somethings you see on the news inveighing about how they’ve got the Earth on their shoulders and have to pick up the pieces of their wanton, consumerist elders? How they’re going to have to be the generation that builds a better, greener more sustainable planet, dammit?

Trash in TreeThey may be true believers. But their generation, on the whole, appears to be no more greener than their moms and dads.

In fact the Millennials are a little less green than their Boomer parents, according to a survey just out for Earth Day 2013.

Baby Boomers (the generation born between 1945 and 1960 give or take) place more value on recycling, composting, reducing the use of packaging and protecting the world’s ecosystems than do Millennials (born between 1982 and 2002-ish), according to the survey.

More Boomers than Millennials also said they were taking actions to reduce and reuse.

For instance 54 percent of Boomers, but only 46 percent of Millennials said they “use a reusable grocery bag as much as possible.”

That’s right, a good portion of those tattooed, Toms-wearing young hipsters are forgetting their canvas bags! For shame.

These were the findings of a new DDB Life Style Study, the nation’s longest running (since 1975) and largest longitudinal study of attitudes and behaviors.

But while Boomers held an edge in many areas, Millennials did rate high on green values. Big majorities of Millennials said that recycling, composting, reducing the use of packaging and protecting the world’s ecosystems are important.

They’re just…not…quite… as good at following through as dear old dad.

Still, the good news here is that the DDB study highlights that both Millennials and Boomers place importance on green actions.

To be honest, in many categories the two groups virtually tied. For instance, 84 percent of Boomers said it was important to protect the world’s ecosystems, but so did 82 percent of Millennials.

And while Boomers were slightly more deft at actually recycling, composting and shunning packaging (at least that’s what they reported),  Millennials hit some high notes on the survey  in which they out greened their folks.

More Millennials said they would “pay more for an environmentally-safe version of a product” (46 percent) than did Boomers (41 percent).

May we interrupt with this brief editorial: Could it be that Boomers are still paying tuition bills for their precious Millennials?

The survey, which sampled more than 6,000 people, also showed that Millennials outpaced their parents when the rubber hit the road. Seven percent reported owning an electric car, compared with just 1 percent of Boomerdom.

All in all, though, it appears that both Millennials and Boomers are the Greener Generations, which makes a certain sense. Mom and Dad came of  age during the first environmental renaissance in the U.S. , which inaugurated Earth Day (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972) and greatly expanded the Clean Air Act (1970). Ecology, waste, pollution were big topics on the table.

Today, these concerns have resurfaced, along with the overarching issue of climate change. The Millennials are facing down a future greatly conscripted by global warming and erratic weather, and according to the survey, they seem well aware of that — only 25 percent said they didn’t think global warming exists, compared with 30 percent of their Boomer counterparts.

Now about those Gen X’ers….


* Sorry about the fine print. At least Millennials will be able to read it.
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