California is burning. Ireland is in drought. People in Spain and Portugal are advised to stay indoors as the heat tops 45C. The Japanese heatwave has claimed 138 lives since April 30. The Arctic Circle is on fire. Italy has issued red alerts for 18 cities just months after the streets of Rome were blanketed in snow.
WE ONLY GOT 4 MINUTES TO SAVE THE WORLD (FROM FOSSIL FUELS)
Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled to allow 21 plaintiffs aged between 11 and 22 to sue the US government for violating their constitutional rights, by allowing fossil-fuel companies to continue to produce, despite being fully aware of the environmental damage being caused. The US government stands accused by its youngest citizens of “creating a national energy system that causes climate change, [which] is depriving them of their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property and [failing] to protect essential public trust resources.”
The UK leads the pack in university divestment worldwide with €80 billion already removed from fossil fuel companies.
Young people are using the legislative machinery of their countries to hold the older generation to account for damage done to the environment, once more demonstrating the behaviours of Self-Salvation. Alongside this, they’re allowing their money to talk by endorsing companies and brands that are actively tackling environmental damage.
FOLLOWING THE JUSTICE WARRIORS
Responding to the plastic continents forming in our seas, and rubbish mountains growing in landfills worldwide, brands and companies as diverse as Dutch supermarket chain Ekoplaza, Mud Jeans, and Australia’s number 1 toilet paper are doing their bit to raise awareness and reduce plastic use.
Ekoplaza opened the world’s first plastic-free aisle in one of its Amsterdam shops, recognising that people’s weekly food shop is a huge source of unrecyclable plastic. Mud Jeans is a jeans leasing company for people who want to live in a world without fast fashion waste. Customers rent jeans and return them when they’re worn out, so they can be rejuvenated or recycled. Finally, the aptly titled Who Gives a Crap toilet paper company sell recycled toilet paper (yes) and donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets for those in need.
These smaller innovative eco-companies are inspiring more of the bigger players to respond; the likes of Adidas, Corona and Procter & Gamble have all amped up their campaigning around producing recycled plastic products this summer. This coincides with the mass abandonment of single-use plastic straws in fast-food companies and coffee chains across the world.
Young people are also demonstrating individual eco-behaviours, including podcaster and journalist, Sophie White who has placed herself on a 1-year shopping ban, after reading that "84 percent of unwanted clothes in the United States in 2012 went into either a landfill or an incinerator."
These campaigns are doing more than just paying lip service to sustainability, and young people recognise, and greatly appreciate the effort some brands are making to tackle environmental damage. Young people are set to inherit the world, and they’re not interested in taking on an old banger. They want a world that’s healthy and going to last.
What was once concern about the environment is quickly turning to anger. Where sustainability was once a nice-to-have for brands, in young people’s eyes, it is now essential. The extreme weather of late has heightened young people’s awareness of the urgent need for action – and we are witnessing a roar for accountability. Young people now expect and demand companies and their governments to support and deliver on climate action – and they won’t be sidelined by cynical and halfhearted attempts at sustainability. They recognise the time to act is now, and they expect action from those in positions of power and influence now.