Millennials and urban hipsters love the hashtag #eatclean – but do they apply the same standards to their grass and coke?
Recently the American website Ecowatch published an intriguing piece contrasting the fortunes of McDonald’s, criticised for not taking sustainability seriously enough and losing business, with Shake Shack, the fast-expanding cult burger chain with a more ethical approach. The reversal of those fortunes, it seems, is down to millennials, the generation born between 1982 and 2000, who are determined to spend their money in a way that does the planet less harm. This was backed up by the business magazine Forbes which declared that the highly developed social conscience of millennials would be a major driver of food sales for years to come. Even Monsanto has appointed a “director of millennial engagement”.
Cheering, isn’t it? Young people seem to give a damn, especially about their lunch. But wait. Another report about the same age group suggests a good number don’t apply the ethics test to all their purchases. According to a Europe-wide study of drug habits, while marijuana use is in decline, it’s still the favoured drug of more than 12% of Britons aged 15-34. And coke is still used by more than 5% of twentysomethings. Anecdotally, those numbers get much higher in moneyed urban areas.