Rachel Foster

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24.10.2018

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5 mins

The Family Market is changing - for the good of the planet

Children are the future and we have a responsibility to enable them to be so.

Their well-being, development, and of course, their quality of life are of fundamental importance to all parents. It is up to us to educate the future leaders, doctors, lawyers and social workers of tomorrow that the Earth’s well-being is worth serious action for everybody’s benefit.

It is evident that parents are increasingly concerned by their children’s futures; worrying that the environment’s future will be ultimately bleak for them. New York Times even stated that this unsure future is driving some adults to make the hard choice to not have children all together.

Parental concern has led children’s own fears of the environment to grow. This is shown by the much-referenced more sensible qualities of Gen Z, where conscientious behaviour towards the environment is almost becoming a generation trait as found by Kidscreen. This conscientiousness is spreading onto content consumption, with Blue Planet II being the most watched show by children in 2017 despite not being solely targeted at them. The impact Blue Planet II has with children gives me hope that children care about the future.

Over half of 13-18 year olds across the UK consider their potential effect on the environment with increasing interest in recycling and animal conservation. A study we did with Britvic earlier this year found that 90% of children asked said we should ‘spend more time trying to save the planet’ and 83% said ‘whenever possible, they take time to save resources like water and energy’. These children are aged 6-12, and if this ambition and drive from such a young age is not enough to fuel company change to more sustainable options, then what is? This may mean that there is some hope, in that children are aware of what’s happening to the environment and the effect they may have on its future, prompting them to make change themselves.

So, what companies are altering their ways to meet these desires? While CSR-related objectives have been growing in volume and frequency across multiple industries, ensuring they are carried out and upheld will become a necessity to meet future generations’ sustainability demands. Companies are taking action to meet the eco-friendly demands from consumers within both short and long term initiatives.

For example, LEGO have introduced the first sustainable LEGO bricks made from plant-based plastic with plans to take this further. However, all bricks won’t be sustainable till 2030… Is this an environmental push or a PR stunt? Can this implementation not be done sooner? I think we can do better than 2030. While other companies are making their efforts, e.g. Disney banning plastic straws at all sites and Nickelodeon’s ‘Get Dirty!’ day created to inspire children to protect the planet. These seem short-term or rather small activations, I’d love to see a company do something big and powerful in hope it would lead other companies to follow suit. Initiatives are taking place, Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign is one I feel is really making an effort, but most companies are either on that PR bandwagon or don’t really see the environment is suffering now, not in the next 100 years. Companies have the intentions but they aren’t moving fast enough.

As part of Generation Z myself (older end no doubt!), I am ensuring that products are sustainably sourced, cutting down my meat consumption and often feel uncomfortable when a plastic straw is placed in my drink. I wouldn’t say I was an ‘eco-hippy’ of sorts, but I for sure will not be making excuses for why I can’t do my bit. I don’t have children myself, but my nieces and nephews (aged 2-6) being mesmerised by Attenborough documentaries and insisting on stainless steel straws fills me with pride.

We'd better hope that GenZ is the beginning of a more environmentally-focused population that is compassionate and inspired to take action for the earth’s future. The alternative isn't so good.