Eco-friendliness is just “congreenience”

You dig around your purse or murse, wipe the dust off of your checkbook, fill out a check and sign it, address an envelope, slap a stamp on it, walk out to the mailbox and then…..three or so days later, BAM! Your bill is paid. Or, you log onto your bank’s website through your smartphone while on the subway, click “pay bill,” enter the amount and payee’s address and click “enter.”  And then you’re done.

Oh, by the way, that transaction was paperless. Of course, you chose the green option because it’s good for the environment. Right?

Living at the forefront of The Inconvenient Truth era, the average millennial finds the health of planet Earth a priority – recycling has been instilled into the brains of America’s youth, and eco-friendliness is encouraged to be top-of-mind.  Now, more than ever, people appear to be environmentally conscious; however, who’s to say that these green actions aren’t merely the most convenient of the available options?

E-billing, online bill pay and banking is easier, faster — not to mention more accurate — and sure, it also happens to be green. It’s so beneficial that Manisha Thakor of Forbes recently blogged about why you should do it and how it gives the participant more control, safety and an easier life. Interestingly enough, not once does she mention making the switch for eco-related purposes.

It should be considered that young people purchase checks less often, and rarely, if ever, send snail mail, especially when the instantaneous online option is much more appealing and more convenient. Most 20-somethings can’t even remember the last time they addressed an envelope, much less paid a bill non-electronically.

Though some laggards of our generation are still holding out, while clinging to the traditional way of operating, an April 2010 Fiserv study found that within that month 80 percent of Gen Y used online banking and one-third conducted mobile banking activities. Likewise, the ease of E-vites and Facebook events make party planning that much more efficient, without spending the extra dough on invitations, envelopes, stamps, etc.

So, either the majority of our generation is conceivably eco-friendly, or we’re just managing our time better and opening up our wallets less.

Furthermore, it’s possible that the combination of progressive technology and the financial situations in which we find ourselves post-college create green opportunities for us, rather than seeking them out ourselves. In many instances, the more technological route just so happens to be more eco-friendly, though the initial draw was to save time, energy (human, not environmental) and costs; the green factor is more of an added bonus, and less of an initial interest.

And then there’s the fact that we buy fewer cars, and the cars we do buy, we drive less. If we’re not driving our own vehicles, we have no problem hopping onto public transportation for a ride to work. One could deduct that it’s due to the interest of conserving energy and gasoline, cutting emissions and working for the betterment of the ozone. However, at this age, we are in such debt post-college, that we simply can’t afford to purchase cars yet.

Even in home-buying instances, energy efficiency finds its way to the top of the list of new home must-haves. But at second glance, it becomes more clear that smaller homes with a more efficient floor plan are just plain cheaper. In other words, the open layouts that use far fewer building products allow for more entertaining space – and what else does a 20-something do at home other than entertain guests? Not much. What’s more, lower energy use for smaller homes equates to lower bills.

There are, of course, many other ways Millennials choose to be green – and not simply for convenience’s sake.

For example, the installation and use of solar panels is not necessarily the easy way out. Neither are ENERGY STAR electronics, products, and home improvements; though they are exceedingly beneficial in more ways than one. This is not to say that some people don’t specifically go out of their way to be more environmentally conscious.

It seems as though Millennials are much less interested in saving the environment as they are in cutting out trips to the bank, sucking it up and taking public transportation, saving a few bucks, and in the end, helping to reduce their carbon footprint – indirectly.

We’re not overly motivated about or interested in eco-friendliness; rather, it’s just easier and more cost effective to be green.

If it winds up cutting a few steps and saving money – and just so happens to (conveniently) benefit Mother Earth – well then, let’s just call it what it is: congreenience.

Photo by Theslowlane

Ashleigh Rainko I’m not a drama queen; life's more exciting with exaggeration. I’m not high maintenance; I just know what I want. Mobile apps, innovation, reinvention – and generally all technology – never cease to amaze me. I’m a PR pro, iPhone addict, UMich grad, Jackie O-aspiring metro-Detroit native, who has the gritty, true perspective on our millennial culture. And while you’ll likely find me wearing seersucker, you can feel free to take me seriously.

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