As the youngest participant at SB’12, I had a unique millennial perspective. Yes, that includes being vivacious, altruistic, excited, and somewhat star-struck, but also particularly aware of the apathy of my generation and the cataclysm we’ll have to deal with (to put it lightly). One of the most common icebreakers floating around the conference went something like “So how did YOU get involved in environmental sustainability?” It’s one I had to answer frequently because of my overflowing enthusiasm and age, and a toughie because it’s somewhat of a mystery where my passion came from.
I grew up in Manhattan with parents who have always lived in NYC. They still believe that garbage can be thrown “away,” and on a recent trip home I discovered they had gotten rid of our recycling bin (I’m a failure…). They refused my bids to install a wormed compost bin under our sink, so I green-stormed my school instead – installing a composter on the terrace and imposing Meatless Monday, PowerDown hours, and Xlerators. The environmental blog I took on for my senior independent project led to Experts’ Opinions on Sustainability and Allan Clout Consulting (a social media consultancy) and catapulted me down a road of endless projects. The more I learn, the more passionate I become - and that’s the cycle that leaves me bubbling with excitement when I meet others interested in sustainability and fizzing at conferences like SB.
|Paradise Point view|
On the flip side, our generation has grown up with the word ‘sustainability’ actually in the dictionary. Even though most aren’t actively involved in the environmental movement, I believe it registers via the osmosis method (the same concept behind the sleep-with-the-book-under-your-pillow trick).
Similarly, my generation has grown up embedded in social media – coming of age during the Crackberry, smart phone, and Facebook revolutions. I, particularly, believe in the power of social media to communicate, organize, and collaborate and am attune to its integral role in our lives (and I might just base my self-worth off my Klout score…@SaraBAllan). The information age that put a googol of facts and figures into cyberspace has led to web 2.0 that can actually make use of it. This is where our generation can come in handy – we created SM etiquette and understand better than anyone how to pull our friends in by making the tidbits of our life seem note-worthy. Crossing over, we intuitively understand the best ways to use social media to engage customers, constituents, and especially the rest of our millennial generation. Two of the biggest themes at SB’12 were millennial engagement and social media best practices, and the Gen-Yers in the room had unique insights on both.
All of this has led to my specific passion for collaboration in the environmental movement that I believe is necessary to prevent our imminent doom (to draw from my emotions after getting through the first 50 pages of Eaarth). This is also why I was so set on traveling from Philadelphia to Sustainable Brands and was behind the co-create I pitched, called Spark[!]Box – a platform to facilitate project-based collaboration among small environmental organizations. Moving forward, I will continue to develop SparkBox with the inspiration and empowerment I gained at SB’12.
I do have to say…the party scene does almost rival that of college – good job staying young at heart!