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February 11, 2020
2020 is here, which means the UK target to recycle 50% of our waste is closing in.
In 2017, we recycled 44.3%, which showed our growth of just 3.9% in the last five years. It’s only been until very recently that many people were aware that we might not reach this particular target, and realised the actual importance of recycling. It cannot be stressed enough that we should be doing things daily to become greener and to reduce our carbon footprint.
So why has it taken us this long to promote sustainable plans and products? And why are the vast majority of people still not listening?
Many people are unaware that a single non-recyclable item can cause a whole bin of recyclables to go to landfill. When your waste makes its way to the recycling authority, there’s a high chance there are more non-recyclable items in the whole thing – this ultimately means it’s cheaper to refuse it, rather than sort through it and recycle the things you should be recycling and paying attention to yourself.
However, millennials are forever changing and evolving trends, in every aspect, in every industry. Their habits are smart, which has led to positive changes in overall consumer behaviour.
The Circular Economy
If you’re not familiar with the circular economy, then let me give you a brief overview.
Way back in 1976, Genevieve Reday and Walter Stahel outlined their vision and goal for an economy in loops – this was for a European Commission research report. As opposed to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose), a circular economy aims to keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them while in use, then recover and reuse materials and products that are at the end of their initial service life.
Research has shown that millennials strongly support the ethos of the circular economy.
Who are millennials? People born between 1981 and 1996.
This age group is making great efforts to look after the planet and keep it healthy so future generations can experience a healthy planet too. But what makes them different to previous and older generations?
Previous generations often adopted a stay-at-home style. In other words, a carefree style.
Millennials love to travel the world and explore different cities, experience different cultures – this isn’t possible if we continue to destroy the planet as there won’t be one left!
Millennials want to preserve the beauty of our planet, which is why they’ve mastered an approach dedicated to making changes, even the smallest ones to have a positive impact. Things like buying a reusable straw for whenever they’re craving a Starbucks and suddenly find themselves in the drive-thru ordering a caramel latte, to reducing their need to use or buy single-use plastic by getting a reusable water bottle. The list is endless.
In the business world, millennials have helped drive a ban on plastic and a push towards sustainability.
Paper? We’ve been living in a digital first world for quite some years; it’s clearly time to stop destroying trees.
Paper tissues for washrooms? It’s not eco-friendly. You might think it is; but it isn’t. Replace your work washrooms with hand dryers, protect the environment and improve employee hygiene – it’s a win-win.
There are many solutions and alternatives that you can undertake to move towards a greener, safer, healthier planet. The sustainability credentials of organisations are known by consumers (especially millennials), and any attempt to greenwash or a failure to adopt sustainable practices will neither be trusted nor purchased from.
As there are changes and trends in behaviour and spend, by 2025 it’s predicted that millennials will represent an estimated 75% of the workforce. This essentially means disposable income is on the rise, and spending habits will be more influential in the next few years.
Millennials will demand products that match their expectations and needs, and they won’t settle for less. Sustainability is the new trend, and it sparks many conversations in the social world. With access to multiple social media platforms and the ability to instantly share opinions and thoughts, sustainability topics have become hot, and they often make their way onto headline news. This is the power of millennials and social media – an awesome combination!
They also love anything that’s trending. If it’s trending, you can rest assured they will hop onto the trend. Eco-friendly trends include, saving turtles, upcycling home décor pieces, using reusable shopping bags and lots more.
Millennials are paving the way for a better future, with revolutionary approaches, technology and intelligence in their court. We’re hopeful if anyone can push towards a more sustainable and greener future – it’s them. The ones who love avocado, Ikea and Starbucks drive-thrus.
They are extremely eager to demonstrate their passion publicly, as seen through purchase and behaviour habits. With the rise of online shopping, businesses and consumers need to adapt to the changes they will face. This is where purchase habits lead to new challenges in regard to packaging, delivery and recycling. This in return will enable us to develop a circular, efficient economy.
Young engineers and scientists across the globe are developing technological solutions which are specifically aimed at reducing global warming and climate change. Here are a couple of examples:
Waste To Energy – Creating energy from waste. There are various waste treatment solutions that generate energy in the form of hot water, steam or electricity.
Vertical Gardens/Farms – The implementation of vertical gardens in buildings has become popular with young business owners and it brings many benefits to the environment. They don’t need watering, which eliminates unnecessary use of water, and they are also safe from extreme weather occurrences such as floods and droughts.
How to Become More Eco-Friendly?
If you’re planning to follow in the footsteps of millennials, below are a few things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment on a daily basis:
- Familiarise yourself with a list of products and items that aren’t recyclable. It’s not just plastic and tissue paper. Sticky tape, books, wrapping paper, takeaway cups are other things (among many) that cannot be recycled.
- Reduce your energy usage by switching to LED light bulbs. These bulbs are substantially more energy-efficient than traditional light bulbs.
- Buy everything local! Support your local vegetable market and don’t waste fuel travelling just to get your shopping when it can be done in a more timely and efficient manner.
- Buy reusable items. Water bottles, travel mugs, shopping bags, reusable plastic, etc.
- Invest in eco-friendly businesses and organisations. These are paving the way for a cleaner, healthier and better future.
Many people believe recycling and living sustainably is tricky; but it isn’t. We strongly recommend you help us make the world a greener, more energy-efficient place to live. Not just for ourselves – but for future generations to come.
Roxanne Berry – Passionate about travelling, writing and being able to capture adventures and memories through a lens. A big fan of inspiring and promoting change in an ever-growing world.