How Eco-Conscious Are Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials?

Lately, it feels like each generation has a bone to pick with its predecessors or successors. But when it comes to the most environmentally friendly behavior, is it the Boomers, Gen X, or the Millennials that are the “greenest generation”? We surveyed 2,000 Americans from all three generations to find out just how eco-conscious their habits are and scored the groups based on their earth-friendly behaviors. Check out who ranked highest in the graph below.

Infographic: How Eco-Conscious are Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millenials?

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 most 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.

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 are more likely to recycle electronics like cell phones, according to survey results.

One of the biggest categories for eco-consciousness is energy and again, Gen-Xers are in last place with one point for their use of energy-efficient appliances-a good habit they share with Boomers. 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.

However, 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 could stand to learn something from their elders.

At a paltry two points, Gen-Xers lose at the Generational Eco-conscious Olympics. Millennials put up a solid score of six but get dinged on things like food and energy waste. According to the survey, with a score of nine out of 17, Boomers are considered the most eco-conscious of the current generations-though all three groups have areas for improvement. By doing things like cutting back on electricity, being food conscious and using composts, and recycling, Boomers demonstrate that real care for the environment begins with developing daily good, Earth-friendly habits.

Methodology

After surveying 2,000 people across the country, we broke down the responses based on age in order to compare eco-conscious habits across three generations: Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. We asked respondents about their daily habits when it comes to their water, food and energy usage as well as their recycling habits.

Must-See Destinations of Natural Beauty Around the World

With a flick of the faucet, we can easily harness one of nature’s most powerful and sustaining forces: water. Whether rock was sculpted, land washed away, or sources joined, water has crafted some of the world’s most striking landscapes and spaces. Check out the list below to learn how Earth’s diverse surface has been shaped by water.

 

Shaped By Water Infographic - High Tide Technologies

 

The creation of some of Earth’s most striking formations born out of a simple formula: water plus time. A lot of time. The most obvious evidence of water’s power can be seen by what’s left behind. The Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and the Twelve Apostles in Australia are a few examples of what’s left lingering after water works on rocks over time. Other natural creations, such as the karst formations in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, Wave Rock in Australia, or the Stone Forest in China perfectly showcase the beauty and mystery of eons of water erosion.

Aside from carving the land as we know it today, water was—and continues to be—integral to the development of civilizations and trade. The Yangtze River, the longest river in China and third longest in the world, is home to many of China’s biggest cities. It is the busiest inland waterway in the world, warranting the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project. Similarly, the Rhine River spans six countries in Europe, and for centuries, provided clean water for cooking, washing, and farming, which helped stave off disease and aided the development of trade and agriculture.

It is easy to take for granted the ease and availability of water today—simply turn on a faucet or buy a plastic bottle at the store. However, climate change impacts the Earth’s water cycle, which has a cascading negative effect on all parts of the ecosystem. Carbonic acid, an acid that forms from carbon dioxide dissolved in water, erodes softer rock faster, meaning that Ha Long Bay and the Twelve Apostles might soon be natural wonders that no longer exist. Legzira Beach in Morocco has already experienced irreversible damage to the landscape. One of its famous arches collapsed due to rising sea levels and dryness. An inevitable collapse of the second arch may not be far behind. Similarly, increased instances of drought at the Brazil-Argentina border will diminish the water flow of the Iguazu Falls, meaning one of the most immense and powerful waterfalls in the world could one day slow to a relative trickle.

Whether it is the Great Blue Hole of Belize, caused by an underwater sinkhole, or the cascading steps of Pamukkale, Turkey, or the color-changing lakes of Plitvice, Croatia, water remains a beautiful mystery, a powerful force of nature, and a sustainer of all this planet’s life. As we continue to harness water for modern purposes, such as energy and power, we must also understand it is wholly beyond our control and therefore always something to respect and protect.

Analysis of State and Federal Spending on Infrastructure

Infrastructure is all around us, it allows us to subsist. It’s easy to take for granted, too. Infrastructure is embedded in our lives: the roads we drive, the pipes that deliver us water, the airports we travel through. Turns out, the state of American infrastructure is in constant flux (sometimes dramatically so) and always a point of spirited debate. That debate becomes particularly interesting when infrastructure is compared state to state.

American Infrastructure Infographic

For this analysis, we defined infrastructure as the physical and organizational structures that support the operation of a society. That definition is fundamentally and necessarily broad because the infrastructure has a wide footprint. As of 2013, 14.5 million workers—11 percent of the U.S. workforce—called themselves employees of infrastructure.

On the one hand, that’s a lot of people. On the other, it’s small—considering how much help our infrastructure actually needs. Take our surface transportation systems, for example. As of 2015, deficiencies in American transportation infrastructure cost households and businesses nearly $147 billion a year. And $36 billion of that comprises—no surprise—travel delays. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, each year Americans spend a combined 600,000 years stuck in traffic. Talk about road rage.

Is there anything to be done? Well, generally, when a state invests a lot of money in its infrastructure, the federal government does too. And more money for infrastructure, logically, leads to improvements.

The states that invest the most in infrastructure include Texas, Florida, Ohio, Illinois, California, and New York. Still, likely due to their population size, cities in these states—Chicago, New York, Miami, San Francisco, and LA—remain some of the most congested in the country.

The states that spend the least? Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, Wyoming, North Dakota, and Rhode Island are all at the bottom of the spending spectrum. And yet, in terms of traffic, only Hawaii—with Honolulu—finds itself a victim of truly heinous traffic congestion.

So what about when states are ranked differently—say, by infrastructure spending per capita, to reflect fluctuations in population? We calculated infrastructure spending per capita—from the states themselves, and from the federal government—and tracked the results. States like Texas, Utah, Ohio, and California spend a lot on infrastructure themselves but do not receive commensurate funding from the federal government.

Conversely, states like Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have the opposite problem: They receive, relative to other states, plenty of federal infrastructure funding, but do not dole out state funding for infrastructure to the same degree.

With many states struggling with funding discrepancies, the future of infrastructure may be faulty. According to experts, if the current infrastructure investment gap—what is invested vs. what needs to be invested—is not closed, the US economy will lose nearly $4 trillion in GDP by 2025.

The Cost of Showers Around the World

You might not realize it, but regular showering is a luxury reserved only for people in the most developed countries. In many parts of the world, the cost of water to supply a shower far exceeds what many individuals can afford, or there are insufficient plumbing and water treatment infrastructure to even make showers a reality.

So, when there is plumbing, what does water cost? Based on a 2012 report from the International Water Association—and calculating for a 17 gallon / 8.2 minute shower (U.S. averages)—the price of a shower can cost as much as 92 cents in countries like Madagascar and India, and a whopping $3.82 in Papua New Guinea. On the low end, showers can be as cheap as $0.03 in China and Argentina.

The Cost of Showers Around the World Infographic - High Tide Technologies

 

While a dollar per shower might not seem egregious to those of us in living in the U.S., taking a shower can cost as much as 70 percent of the average person’s daily income in countries like Papa New Guinea. People in Ethiopia and India would have to use one-fifth of their daily income to pay for the same hot water that so many of us take for granted. If an American citizen had to spend 70% of his or her daily income on showers, it would cost $83 per day!

Of course, the price of a shower is moot for many people throughout the world. Nine-hundred million people on this planet don’t have access to clean water.  Twice that many people (1.8 billion) use a water source that’s contaminated with human waste. Contaminated water leads to the deaths of 3.3 million people every year. That’s the same number of people that graduated from high school in the U.S., in 2016.

Imagine having to travel great distances multiple times a day just to get the water you need to survive. Such is the case for Aylito Binayo, of Ethiopia, who spends eight hours a day carrying 50 pounds of water from the nearest river back to her village. When having access to clean water is a full-time job, every drop needs to be conserved as much as possible. Aylito only uses 2.5 gallons of water per day. Compare that to the average American, who uses 100 gallons of water per day. The next time you hop in the shower, remember how important it is to conserve the water you have.