There’s a revolution brewing among the under-16 set. A new wave of personal advocacy and responsibility is taking root as kids are becoming more and more involved with issues of social responsibility—and starting to teach their parents about sustainability.
I recently experienced this firsthand speaking with an opinionated 8-year-old. What was she excited about? Litter-less Lunches. These are organized school events that mobilize families to choose products and pack school lunches in ways that generate less waste. This young crusader knew exactly how many pounds of garbage were generated by her school on litter-less lunch versus normal days (I don’t know about you, but I sure wasn’t thinking about my environmental footprint when I was 8.).
Talk to parents of grade school kids across the country, and you’ll hear similar stories. There is pressure to be a better global citizen that is bubbling up from younger generations and that is having a real impact on consumption patterns. As one father of two in Cincinnati told me, “It’s one thing when your town gives you a recycling bin, but another altogether when your 8-year-old asks why you aren’t separating out the trash, turning off lights in empty rooms and buying local apples instead of fruit flown in from New Zealand…”
If anyone should really care about these issues, it is this younger generation. By 2050, when this 8-year-old is in her late 40s, the planet’s +6B people will have grown to 10B—creating almost unimaginable demands for resources and impact on the environment.
The good news is that the future crusaders who will overcome these challenges are already here among us. Just don’t let the fact that they are 3 feet tall and listen to Miley Cyrus make you take them any less seriously. Today they are pestering their parents about recycling, Litter-less Lunches and turning off lights. Tomorrow, they’ll be driving innovation, solving problems and forging a new reality around global stewardship. Their future—and the future of the planet—depends on it.
Craig Bida is Cone's Executive Vice President of Cause Branding and Nonprofit Marketing.