The bumpy road to sustainability

So far, the interviews indicate that young people are mostly preoccupied by our increasing dependency on fossil fuels, closely followed by the threat of resource shortages and the treatment of waste produced by our high-consumption society.

But what are they doing about it? How much are young people aware of their own impact on the sustainability of our planet, and how does it influence their lives? The first responses from Berlin show a mostly basic understanding of sustainability among youth, but young people also face a number of obstacles when pursuing a more sustainable life-style.

The first of these problems is a lack of information. Lise (25, Business and Marketing graduate looking for a job): “One of the rules in marketing is that you have to go to the people, instead of letting them come to you. So also with sustainability: you have to provide people with the information they need, and present it in the way they like, instead of expecting them to search for it.”

Does this mean young people are too lazy to search the internet for information on how to recycle correctly or what energy provider to take? The problem lies deeper, as the complexity of sustainability makes it hard to distinguish green from greenwash. On top of this, young people lack the time for doing all the research themselves, says Florian (22, Law student). “We are being pushed to finish our studies as soon as possible, leaving very little time for other engagements.”

Finally, sustainability is still largely seen as an expensive fashion, which is not within reach of the average student budget. Lise concludes: “It doesn’t make sense that I would have to pay more for sustainable products and services!”

What about you? Are you prepared to pay more for sustainable products? How much? And how to distinguish between greenwashing and genuine sustainability? Can we achieve this structural switch to supporting sustainability? And what can young people do to help this happen?