The first native sustainable generation
As you know from my previous two articles on the connection between Gen Alpha and Gen Z and sustainability, I’m fascinated by this topic. This is the third and final article in the series. I hope my articles have been inspiring and thought-provoking for you.
The research I’ve discovered seems to put Gen Alpha on a sustainability pedestal. They will be the generation to save the planet!
We’re proud of calling them the first native sustainable generation. But let’s think about this from the Gen Alpha point of view. When they hear these descriptions, what if they view this as older generations leaving them with a mess to clean up? I can see their point.
We need to do everything we can now instead of looking to the younger generations to solve the problems we have created. This is why we need to take greater responsibility and bring urgency to our work in changing consumer behavior and developing better products. An important step in quantifying progress, engaging Gen Alpha in these areas, and setting them up well for the future is first defining key concepts to bring clarity and accountability to the conversation.
Key Concepts: Bringing Transparency
Most brands are part of the huge sustainability transformation. Change is happening quickly and so many companies are doing great work. I’ve discovered key concepts that are crucial in determining exactly where in that transformation a brand or company is at any point in time. Let’s get on the same page by defining these concepts.
According to Forbes, a sustainable brand is one that has successfully integrated environmental, economic and social issues into its business operations. However, many companies that consider themselves to be sustainable only meet one-third of this definition. This is why we need to be able to describe accurately where brands are in the sustainability transformation.
Native Sustainable Brand
I chose this term to describe new brands that clearly have integrated environmental, economic and social issues into their business operations. These brands have been defined by the unique solutions they bring to the issues.
This term, coined nearly 40 years ago, describes the way companies exaggerate about their environmental credentials. In the European Union, it was recently found that nearly half of the “green online claims” being made by companies were exaggerated, deceptive, or false.
As more of the so-called Sustainable Brands have been found to be greenwashing, more organizations and governmental bodies have taken legal action to push back against this deception. Given what we know about Gen Alpha, they won’t be shy about calling out greenwashers. Gen Z has already been doing just that.
This term describes company behavior in response to fear of the level of scrutiny of companies that greenwash. Greenhushing companies intentionally stay quiet about their environmental accomplishments rather than face unwanted attention. At the current phase of sustainability transformation, it’s not surprising that companies would want to avoid scrutiny. At the same time, communicating about accomplishments is crucial to driving further transformation.
This term applies the marketing term StoryDoing specifically to sustainability. While Green StoryTelling involves communicating the brand’s sustainability values, Green StoryDoing is about taking action and also provides a framework for companies to communicate about their credibility and accomplishments in relation to sustainability. The goal should be to incorporate Green StoryDoing into a company’s license to operate.
In conclusion, we need to act decisively to move away from Greenwashing and Greenhushing to Green StoryDoing. By defining these important trends in the interest of supporting Gen Alpha and Gen Z in Green StoryDoing, we take responsibility for our role in the situation. We can also better support brands in the sustainability transformation by providing transparency