Millennial Life: what stops millennials living out their values?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Millennials – born between 1980 and 2000 – are both the 20th century’s last generation and its first truly digital one. We spoke to eight millennials from across the UK to find out how they want to live, what stops them, what they view as the biggest issues facing society, and what they think of the generations before and after them.     

5 things: millennials strive to be ethically and environmentally conscious. What stops them living out these values?

  1. Although millennials strive to live with ethics and environment at the heart of their conscience, our commodity-driven economy sometimes makes it difficult to keep hold of what is important to them – friends, family, experience… “It can be difficult when you are inundated by a commodity driven economy to keep the focus on the importance of the experience” (M, 32, Manchester).
  2. Whilst they are inclined to keep people and planet at the heart of how they live, an impediment they face is the (lack of) availability of products that align with their values. Which products can they trust? And where is the information that tells them what values lie behind the goods and services they want to buy? To some it feels as though the market hasn’t quite caught up with consumer expectation for (a) information, (b) proof of good behavior.
  3. Millennials are financially restricted, partially because many have mortgages (perhaps the last generation to do so), lifestyles to keep up with (though many claim to shun these), and other financial commitments. “I probably don’t [live by my values] as much as I would like. Like everyone, we all want to be ethical and environmentally aware, but ultimately look for price” (C, 32, Leamington Spa).
  4. One thing that is not a problem for millennials is peer pressure. Whilst previously peers may have influenced their actions, this generation has become more comfortable within its own skin as it approaches its late 20s and 30s. Our respondents reported that they are now able to act upon their own values, without concern for what others think: “We are all at the age where people are respectful [towards one another’s values]” (R, 31, London).
  5. Like peers, parents are also playing a limited or negligible role in shaping how their children live. Perhaps this breaks away from generations above, where parental approval (or disapproval) was highly significant. For millennials, it is not, and nobody we spoke to reported feeling restricted by the values their parents hold.

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