Should clean tech do a better job engaging the youth?

By Kimberly Kupiecki

Photo: Solar Aid

It’s no surprise that youth are more tech-savvy than their parents.  They grew up with technology from a young age and are part of a generation that is always connected and eager to try the latest technological innovations.  Google has caught on to this trend with its TeachParentsTech.org site, which allows kids to send their parents a tech “care package.” As of August 3, nearly 75,000 parents had been served.

But youth are also more eco-savvy than their parents having grown up through a time where climate and the environment make daily headlines. This generation has realized that the planet they have inherited is definitely not the one their parents did.

At the nexus of technology, environment and youth is reverse education; youth educating their parents on tech and eco.

We know that “Green Teens” are influential communicators and are more likely to post a personal page online; respond to an online poll; and converse in a chat room.  And, we know they are comfortable using the technology and tools that will enable them to share whatever is on their mind.

Last October, Edelman released its first ever 8095 study on millennials, those born between the years 1980 and 1995.  The survey includes interviews with 3,100 millennials from eight countries – Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States. Amongst the findings, the study showed that 65% of millennials are disconnected for one hour or less per day, are empowered to take action based on information and nine in ten take action weekly on behalf of brands.

According to a 2007 research report from Jupiter Research, teens that are most active online and influential with peers are also the kids most concerned about the environment. So-called green teens are slightly more engaged in a number of activities than the average 13-year-old to 17-year-old, according to the report. (Of the teens surveyed, 38 percent said they were worried about the environment, and 15 percent said they were highly concerned about it.)

The 8095 survey also states:

According to CIA World Factbook, more than 1.7 billion people on earth today are between 15 years and 30 years of age. The fact is, as a group, Millennials are now in charge, spending more than any other generation and spending it in ways that a generation ago or even a few years ago was unimaginable. To understand Millennials is to begin to understand how to connect and interact with this extraordinary population. Marketers cannot afford to ignore Millennials. More importantly, none of us will succeed without them.

Many clean tech companies consider themselves “business to business” and in most cases overlook the power of youth to help carry the message. On the other hand, the industry says that a lack of understanding and misperceptions about clean technologies (futuristic, too expensive) are holding it back. Could the clean tech industry do a better job engaging youth?  Can we provide compelling content and be resources to help fuel their passion for tech and eco to spark conversations and engage in a dialogue that leads to action?