Sustainability has become a buzzword over the last several years, and with reason. Climate change, financial crises, and other issues that our society faces are all reasons why sustainability has become a key consideration when it comes to decision making on behalf of the government, enterprise, and consumers. As a result, we’ve seen the rise of plant-based foods and veganism, upcycling, crop optimization, sustainable retail, and the push to find more efficient fuel sources. Moreover, because of the large influence sustainability has had on the public, the very SDG-forward Generation Z has internalized its message, and built an entire culture around it. So, what are the components surrounding Sustainability Culture that Gen Z has championed?
First and foremost, the massive sustainability shift towards plant-based food sources can be argued to have been largely catalyzed by Gen Z. An excerpt from Forbes states, “79 percent of Gen-Z’s being “eager to go meatless” a few times a week, with 60 percent happily reporting they’re ready to base their diets on more “plant-forward foods... A study by the UK’s BOL Foods finds veganism is skyrocketing in popularity among the European Gen-Z’s, with a quarter of 18-24 year olds reporting that they’ve become vegan over the last year, and 35 percent stating that they’re actively seeking out a “vegan partner” for dating.” In addition, 35% Of Generation Z want to be meat-free by 2021.Because of the clearly intense demand for plant-based food sources, the market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.9% from 2020 to 2027 to reach $74.2 billion by 2027. Gen Z has made it so that plant-based foods have become the rule rather than the exception when it comes to culturally integrated societal norms.
In addition to alternate food sources, upcycled materials and sustainable retail have also become a part of Gen Z culture. According to a report by First Insight, “majority of Gen Z (72%), Millennial (70%) and Gen X (63%) shoppers say that their purchase decisions are based on value, as well as social, personal and environmental principles.” And Almost 3 in 5 Gen Z (59%) respondents say they would purchase upcycled products. Not only this, but Gen Z are incredibly active advocates for upcycling, sustainable retail, and environmental awareness on social media. Countless times, I have browsed through Facebook or Instagram, and I have witnessed how my peers constantly put in time and energy in order to educate fellow Gen Z members on the importance of sustainability––be it through the use of infographics, personal stories, or volunteerism opportunities.
In summary, Gen Z has taken sustainability to the next level by creating a culture around it. It is now up to us to embrace this culture shift, and pass it forward.