The youth today, armed with more information and aware of the need for conservation, are more socially responsible and hold much promise for the future.
My young friend, Rachna Ramanathan, who just began her first job as an HR professional, is an animal activist who has volunteered with PETA. She carries cloth bags and is very conscious about what she wears. “Many of my friends are vegan,” she says and believes that thanks to the Internet and the social media, the Millennials – born in the 80s and 90s – are more aware than their parents were about social causes.
Her claim is not unfounded. Adweek, which disperses news for marketing, media and advertising professionals, suggests that millennials represent spending power of $2.45 trillion. Of this, 70% spend more on brands that support causes they care about, says another report from Omnicom Group’s Cone Communications. So, for brands targeting this segment, social responsibility should be top priority.
This theory is supported by other studies too. A Spectrem Group study suggests that at least 25% of investors in this age group allocate at least a quarter of their investments in socially responsible companies. Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report of 2015 reveals that 73% cent of global millennials do not mind paying extra for sustainable offerings—up from 50% in 2014.
The millennial activist
When talking of millennials and social responsibility, the first name that comes to mind is Arun Krishnamurthy and the organization he runs – Environmentalist Foundation of India – which works in several areas including sparrow reintroduction, lake conservation, herb restoration/native species plantation, creating urban eco responsibility, composting, setting up biodiversity parks in schools, animal care, youth camps and mass awareness through media.
While not many may be as involved, there is no doubt that the current crop of youth does not believe in merely pursuing a career but is involved more actively in social causes.
She explains the reasons:
- Parents are more aware and conscious and therefore have started doing their bit – acting as role models for their children.
- Children realize that it’s now up to them, and if they don’t do something, then they will pay the price too
- There is some external motivation as well – colleges ask for this experience as well and value it highly
- Fellowships in the social sector, such as TFI, YI, India Fellow program are coveted
- There is no pressure to get a job soon after college like before, which gives them an opportunity to explore and be part of causes.
“I think what’s really admirable is the less privileged people coming out in vast numbers…none of the above will be relevant to them,” she adds. She further explains, “I think that the reasons they engage are different. One, it is cool now to be seen as part of protests. More importantly – some of the problems they deal with are close home – the empathy is really high.”
An example of how parents can be a strong influence would be Chitra Iyer from Bangalore. A singer-actor by profession, she is also an animal lover, activist and rescuer. Her daughters, currently in their early 20s, have not only put up with space constraints due to housing rescued animals, but have helped her with the work too.
The small gestures
While some may be part of a group or may volunteer from time to time, those who cannot or do not, need not lose hope. There are many ways in which one can contribute to a
cause besides donations.
Sukadha Parthasarathy, freelance writer/trainer, suggests, “Inculcate earth-friendly, non-polluting habits in school. Learn to grow your own vegetables, or at least plant and take care of one tree. Like Japanese children, learn to clean up.”
Housewife Kamala Rajagopalan stresses on the role of the youth in maintaining cleanliness in their surroundings, protecting public properties, saving water,
helping the aged and the poor.
Tips to be socially responsible
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Watch your consumption – of food, clothes, gadgets and even their usage. Something is destroyed to create something else and the more we consume, the more the destruction. If possible, create new things from old or recycle and share.
- Buy cruelty-free products: Be aware of how your product is manufactured – many animals undergo torture to make stylish apparel and cosmetics. But don’t lose heart, there are socially responsible organizations that find alternatives and non-violent ways to make products. Do your research before you become loyal to a brand.
- Solid waste management: Waste segregation will help reduce the problem of waste disposal. Composting of organic waste and recycling the rest will improve our surroundings. The compost can also be used for growing vegetables and plants.
- Conserve water: Each drop counts. Leaky taps are not only a nuisance but a big drain. Have them fixed, and observe your water usage to reduce waste.
- Conserve fossil fuel: This is a fast-depleting resource. It may be easy to book a cab, thanks to technology, or drive to different places. But plan your day such that you cover many tasks and don’t make wasteful trips. If you can walk or cycle, nothing like it.
Remember, one drop makes an ocean, and each act counts.