Which US Generation Has The Best Eco-Conscious Habits? A Survey+

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Habits are the repeated thoughts and behaviors that become automatic, and so much a part of our routines that we hardly think about them. That lack of conscious recognition is often true of the way we treat the environment as well. Although we don’t think about it as much as we should, each person on the earth is responsible for environmental damage. We must accept responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint by conserving, preserving, and respecting the planet. It’s time to let the reality of climate change sink in deeply enough to reshape our values and priorities. That means adopting eco-friendly and eco-conscious habits.


What Are Habits, and How Are They Connected To Environmental Activism?

Habits are rituals and behaviors that allow us to carry out our essential life activities. As effort-saving mechanisms, they really don’t require creativity and or complex thinking from us. For example, it is typical to not pay attention to the ingredients within the creams, lotions, and salves that we use on our bodies, paying mind instead to which packaging looks the best or what smells the best. However, harmful ingredients like carcinogens, chemicals, and preservatives are frequently masked by aesthetically-pleasing graphic design and human-made fragrances. If we had committed to eco-friendly consumption, we would’ve checked the body enhancers more carefully.

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Eco-conscious habits include the self-beliefs about our responsibility to the world and to each other. These influence what environmental actions we take. As we more frequently adopt green lifestyles, we start to read labels, research ingredients, and strive for minimalism in our routines. The rise of conscious living inspires new awareness about terminology, too. What’s the difference between natural and organic? How are products ethically made? How can we tell if our consumer goods contain sulfates, toxins, or parabens?

Our eco-habits are key to who we are and the change we want to adopt to encourage green living. Despite the initial adjustments, we can make a real difference by creating routines of eco-friendly habits. We can integrate newer, greener habits into our lifestyles for years and years to come.

Have you ever wondered which generation of US citizens is more eco-conscious than the other? Which group of people commit to healthier communities for a more sustainable world? Does one particular generation of US citizens choose places to live, careers, foods, products, and leisure activities that are more environmentally friendly than another?

Eco-Conscious Habits Across the Generations

Want some perspective on which American generation has the best eco-conscious habits? High Tide Technologies, an end-to-end cloud-based SCADA company, surveyed 2,000 Americans across 3 generations –baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials — to see which generation is the greenest. The company was curious to determine if people are developing better eco-conscious habits over time. The 3 groups were scored based on their earth-friendly behaviors. Here’s the broad overview of the findings:

  • More than 90% of all three generations agree that recycling makes a difference.
  • Baby boomers are most likely to use energy efficient appliances and recycle.
  • Millennials are using the least amount of water and energy.

And the winners are… Baby Boomers! They are considered the most eco-conscious of the current generations. By doing things like cutting back on electricity, being food conscious, composting, and recycling, Boomers demonstrate that real care for the environment begins with developing daily good, earth-friendly habits.

Let’s look at the different categories of the survey to determine the strengths and potential improvements for eco-conscious habits for each generation.


Water Consumption. When it comes to our most precious resource, Boomers are leading the most conservative path by showering and running the dishwasher the least. Gen-Xers are likely to shower more than 7 times in a week. Millennials are keeping their jeans as fresh as possible by never or rarely washing them, which helps cut down on water waste.


Recycling. According to the survey, more than 90% of all three generations agree that recycling makes a difference. However, Gen-Xers are coming up short with a zero score, whereas Boomers and Millennials tie for first with two points apiece. Millennials are most likely to use paper billing and reusable bags, cutting down on excess paper products, and Boomers tend to recycle electronics like cell phones, according to survey results.


Energy Use. One of the biggest categories for eco-consciousness is energy and, again, Gen-Xers are in last place with the least use of energy-efficient appliances. Boomers also have the least amount of TV watching or streaming usage and cut back their electricity usage the most. Millennials, however, tend to suck up electricity even when not awake by choosing to charge their phone at night. Boomers and Gen-Xers are also more likely to use Energy Star appliances, however, Gen-Xers tend to have the highest electric bills. Millennials also embrace the green commute, choosing public transportation or cycling over driving. Once again, Gen-Xers are the most likely to drive to work.


Food Consciousness. When it comes to food, one good habit cancels out the other for Boomers and Millennials. While Boomers are most likely to eat meat more than five times a week — a disastrous strain on the environment — Millennials are the most vegetarian-conscious generation. Conversely, Millennials are more likely to waste more than 10 pounds of food a week, whereas Boomers are the most careful about food waste, choosing to compost instead. Gen-Xers also opt for composting, proving that younger generations can learn from their elders.

A List of Eco-Conscious Habits for You

The burning of fossil fuels and other energy consuming processes in the industrial world releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the atmosphere. These emissions trigger the global warming phenomenon presently affecting the earth’s climate. If everyone in the US alone followed eco-conscious tips, we’d save billions in energy costs and make quicker progress in achieving the Paris Agreement goals. It doesn’t matter which generation is yours. Here are ways that each of us can be more eco-conscious:

  • Reduce consumption and associated material waste
  • Reuse as many products as possible
  • Kick the “disposable” plastic habit and support causes who are working hard to clean our waterways
  • Choose reusable storage materials and repurpose items
  • Conserve water
  • Drive less and walk-bike-skate-run more
  • Leave no trace when outdoors
  • Eliminate GMO foods, choose organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and grow small amounts of food
  • Invest in alternative energy sources: solar water heating, solar panels, wind power, and more
  • Join the fights to save our public lands
  • Rally for the rights to clean water and air for all
  • Protect rivers and their tributaries
  • Do everything you can to fight climate change.

Slow Makes Sense When Converting to Eco-Conscious Habits

While each of us may be enthusiastic to start eating meatless meals, turning off all our electronics, commuting by bike, switching to all energy-efficient appliances, installing solar panels and a companion battery storage pack — plus so many other available sustainable lifestyle moves — the reality is that we may try to take on too much, too quickly, and give up altogether. We should try not to let that tendency to become totally immersed in eco-consciousness overwhelm our slow but consistent migration to eco-friendly lifestyles.

Instead, pick and commit to one eco-conscious habit change, and focus on that for a month. Then step back and assess the overall impact on your lifestyle and ethics. You may just be ready to adopt a second or even third new eco-habit with a bit of small success.

Final Thoughts

To be eco-conscious takes conscious thought and realignment of many ingrained habits. And it really has the potential to accomplish so much more.

We need to look at our individual lifestyles and future development that meets the ecological requirements of the present and the next generations — of all classes of people. We must consider not only our own daily lives but the basic needs of the most poor in the world, balancing the knowledge that we each can only reach so many people, but realizing that we do have local knowledge on which to draw. We must call upon our local authorities to consider the environmental impact of everyone in our communities. Our eco-consciousness must acknowledge the struggles that arise over natural resources or from related socioeconomic and political inequities.

Increasing our sensitivity to the global ramifications of environmental change brings our eco-conscious habit changes to entirely new levels.

Photo by mattwalker69 on Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack: https://carolynfortuna.substack.com/.

Carolyn Fortuna has 1279 posts and counting. See all posts by Carolyn Fortuna