Lea is 18 and thus part of the Generation Z. During her internship, we asked her to write a text. In the text, she explains the issues that concern her. The aim was to gain an insight into the thoughts of her generation and to understand them a little better. Lea's text touched us, so we decided to share it to reach out more, hoping to make these important thoughts heard.
LONGO intern Lea has written a text from her perspective about her generation: Generation Z.
Generation Z is often referred to as the generation of the future and describes young people born between 1995 and 2010. Often, this generation is called digital natives because they grew up with digital technologies. They are the ones who are going to shape society in the coming years and play an important role in creating the future. In this context, the topic of sustainability plays a central role.
"In my opinion, Generation Z is for a large part very environmentally aware and strongly committed to sustainability. We are concerned about climate change. We are concerned about rising CO2 emissions and the negative impact they have on our lifestyle and on the planet. We are critical of companies when they are not committed to sustainability.
Since I am currently doing an internship at a print shop, I wanted to know more about the environmental impact of a printing company.
The role of paper
The production of the product paper has an impact on the environment already. During my research on paper consumption and its impact on the environment, I found that it takes wood, energy, and water to produce paper. In Germany, the per capita consumption in 2019, was about 227 kg of paper. For 1 kg of paper, about 2.2kg of wood is needed, which means that for each person, on average, about 500 kg of wood is consumed per year.
Compared to other industries, however, the paper industry has good preconditions in terms of sustainability and environmental friendliness, since paper, as I found out, is renewable and recyclable.
First of all paper is a product made from renewable resources. It can furthermore be recycled at the end of its lifespan. Paper is made from wood fibers that can be used 6 to 7 times again to produce paper. Subsequently, the "waste" can be used to generate bioenergy.
Paper can therefore be a prime example of a functioning recycling economy.
Another important aspect that convinced me is that in Europe the recycling rate of paper is over 72% and 60% of the fuels used in the paper industry are of non-fossil origin.
Printing companies in this context
On top of that, there are a lot more ways to print sustainably these days, and thankfully there are print shops that care about the environment.
Personally, I was not aware that printing companies were also concerned about the environment and were trying to act as ecologically as possible. When I started looking at some websites, I realized that sustainability is an issue for many printeries.
There are many areas where print shops can act in an environmentally friendly way to save resources. Starting with paper: there are various types of paper: recycled paper, grass paper, hemp paper and apple paper. Of the papers listed, I was only familiar with recycled paper, so I was fascinated to find more information about other types of paper as well.
Also when using the colors and printing plates, one can act environmentally friendly. Using mineral oil-free colors or chemical-free printing plates helps the environment.
The context of the Generation Z
Nevertheless, few companies care whether they act ecologically correct or not. Many only use the topic to gain a good public image and to make a "positive" impression on customers.
Many people belonging to generations X and Y do not see the environment as a priority. Neither are they the ones who have to live with the consequences of not being environmentally friendly in the future. That is Generation Z.
My generation was born in a world marked by the effects of climate change. We are experiencing directly how extreme weather, droughts, and floods are affecting the lives of many people. My generation is aware of the environmental impact that our actions have, and so we want to play a part in making the world a more sustainable place.
The problem I see today is that people from the X and Y generations appear to be in the position to make decisions. However, they often make decisions against the environment.
A recent example is the controversial Willow Project in Alaska. Joe Biden wants to build three new drilling platforms in northwest Alaska. This area covers 93 million hectares, making it the largest untouched area in the country. The so-called Willow Project is expected to produce up to 29 million liters of oil per day, and over the next 30 years, as much as 96 billion liters. The oil production itself is estimated to release 287 million tons of CO². One presumed reason for this project is the current energy crisis in Europe. The construction in Alaska would cause many already threatened species, such as polar bears, to become extinct and the ecosystem to collapse.
On TikTok and other social networks, people have been protesting against the U.S. government's decision using the hashtag #StopWillow since its announcement. These protests are mainly coming from the Generation Z, as the consequences of this project could greatly affect our future and also that of our children.
I admit that there are also many people from generations X and Y who are interested in environmental issues and are committed to sustainability. I think it is important to emphasize that it is not a question of a person's age but rather their individual attitudes that determine how interested they are in environmental matters.
Generation Z has the advantage of being digitally experienced and able to use social media and online platforms to find out and share their opinions on various issues, including sustainability. Since Generations X and Y are less represented online, they have less information on this topic than my generation.
Generation Z is a driving force when it comes to sustainability and is going to play a key role in shaping a sustainable future.
What does Generation Z want?
We are asking businesses and governments to become more sustainable in their approach.
We are committed to a shift towards a green economy. To be successful for the long term, businesses and governments need to be responsive to our needs and demands and achieve the goals of sustainability.
To me, it is important to keep in mind that there can be many reasons why people, of all ages, do not get involved in environmental issues. For example, people may be overwhelmed by the complexity of the issues and feel that their efforts as individuals are not enough to make a real difference. It may also be that other issues are more pressing to them at the moment.
Nevertheless, every small step for the environment helps in improving - even just a little bit.
As a society, we must continue to work toward promoting environmental awareness and understanding the correlation between our individual actions and the health of our planet. By encouraging environmentally friendly behaviors, we can help get more people involved and help save our planet."