The Intern Perspective
The Intern Perspective is a series showcasing fresh views of interns who are studying sustainability. These interns hold a unique position as they look to build on their theoretical knowledge and step into the workforce. We value supporting new talent in our industry, and want to hear their voice as the future of our workforce.
By Dilbreen Hussein, Commercial Team Intern
Living as a millennial comes with many challenges to overcome. The rapid shift in technology has resulted in an overload of information that can, at times, be overwhelming. There seems to be an abundance of problems that all plead for attention, and it can be difficult to distinguish between what you should commit energy towards. Climate change is a significant issue that has a global impact with environmental sustainability being our first line of defence, but does it matter to millennials?
The seeds of my sustainability journey were planted many years ago during a social studies class in intermediate school where we were learning about the serious negative impact humans have on the planet, and ultimately ourselves. I was shocked at the information I had been exposed to and it made me wonder - why is this happening? Fast forward to my tertiary study at university where I had a friend suggest for me to take a sustainability paper saying he thought I would find it interesting. From there, I saw environmental sustainability as a means of tackling a serious issue and wanted to explore the idea of pursuing it at university and as a possible career option. Two years later I am sitting in an office doing an internship on the verge of completing my business degree, with a major in sustainable enterprise.
During my tertiary experience I have observed that, for the most part, university students who study sustainable enterprise have a strong belief that climate change is a serious matter for which we are all accountable. For students who are not involved in sustainability papers, they seem to have heard of climate change but are not aware of the magnitude of the situation. This distinction is a significant factor in determining millennials’ attitude and behaviour regarding sustainability.
Happily, there is a growing trend among millennials around the idea of being a conscious consumer, which is essentially about having a holistic view on the consequences of production and therefore buying ethical and sustainable products. Although the intention is good, being able to follow through can be problematic as ethical and sustainable products tend to be the more expensive option and I have experienced this myself when shopping. For example, an item may cost $2, meanwhile the sustainable and ethical counterpart will be double the price at $4 and while the difference is only two dollars, that change in price is a 100% increase. A few items here and there are not a problem but consider the financial strain this would put on millennials (and everyone else) who are trying to buy as many ethical and sustainable products as possible.
As time goes on, there will likely be changes made to laws and infrastructure regarding environmental sustainability that will affect millennials in various areas from transport to food and many more in between. Despite differing levels of understanding millennials have on climate change, many do want to be a part of the solution and it is important to consider this when adjustments are made to laws and infrastructure. I believe doing this successfully will provide opportunities for all, let alone millennials, to make a positive contribution in combatting climate change.