Millennials to drive SME sustainability

Millennials are the future of sustainability according to the second annual Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey that flagged efforts around conservation, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship

The survey found that Millennials have a huge appetite for sustainability, showed greater knowledge about sustainability than other age cohorts and a strong interest in implementing sustainable business practices.

However, the survey notes that they lack influence needed to effect change in their current roles.

Millennials are more committed to increasing sustainability. Eighty percent of those surveyed indicating that they have at least a fair amount of knowledge, nearly 60 percent are committed to increasing sustainable activities in their businesses, which is significantly higher than the 49 percent of Boomers, who are more likely to be the top decision makers.

Millennials believe they lack enough influence to effect change now, the survey found. Only 27 percent of Millennials in management roles believe that they have a great deal of influence on their organization’s sustainability practices, and more than half (53 percent) of Millennials say that their leadership is impeding their company’s sustainability initiatives. The top decision makers in SMBs, such as owners and partners, are more likely to be Boomers.

As for year-over-year findings, the survey showed that there has been little change in the number of SMBs that have implemented sustainable business practices. Only 62 percent have implemented some type of company or employee-based program to reduce energy, encourage recycling, etc. That number is nearly identical to the findings in the 2014 survey.

SMB leaders identified the sustainable business activities they believe are most critical to implement now, as well as those that should take place in the next five years in terms of operations, investments and employees.

Using supplies more efficiently (67 percent) is critical today, and utilizing solar technology is the top item to take place in the next five years (49 percent).

SMBs believe that buying or leasing refurbished goods is the most critical activity today (47 percent), and they identified buying alternative energy as the top item to look at over the next five years (47 percent).

Encouraging employees to power down equipment is critical today (55 percent), while offering employees incentives to purchase eco-friendly vehicles (31 percent) is noted as the top activity to look at in the next five years.

The full report can be read here: