Millennials: Climate-Friendly, But Definitely Not ‘Environmentalists’

101414Treehugger_OrigRecent trends show that millennials will form a key part of climate solutions in the United States. They’re more likely to live in cities, more interested in multi-modal, low-carbon transportation, and tend to eat less meat. But millennials are also less likely to call themselves environmentalists, explains a recent story from NPR. The reason? The term “environmentalist” has become politicized and carries finger-wagging, pejorative associations. Whether they know it or not, this subtle shift in how millennials label themselves could have a widespread impact on climate solutions in the United States. The more that climate-friendly behavior becomes dissociated from the term “environmentalist,” the more likely mainstream people (for whom the term “environmentalist” does not resonate) are to take it up themselves.

Millennials: We Help The Earth But Don’t Call Us Environmentalists

Chris Benderev, Contributor to NPR

This story is part of the New Boom series on millennials in America.


Young people have been the life blood of the environmental movement for decades. There could be trouble on the horizon though, and it all comes down to semantics.


To explain, it’s helpful to use the example of Lisa Curtis, a 26-year-old from Oakland, California.


Curtis comes from a long line of environmentally-conscious Americans. Her grandmother, Sis Curtis was an avid hiker and at 84 remains a Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund member. Lisa’s 55-year-old mother, Barb Curtis drives a hybrid car, roofed her house with solar panels, and avoids using plastic except as a last resort.


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