In a previous blog post, I claim that Millennials are excommunicated from a healthy space to live: countries lack resources to make them desirable candidates, suburban life is equal to a life in the car and out of the social scene, and cities are now polluted death traps. But in the race for a more sustainable world, urban planners are striving to make greener cities.
Jeff Speck, one of these city designers, claims that today cities must brag about their sustainability ranking to attract Millennials. Gender politics, appropriate work/life balance, "clean eating" and exercise all qualify as free word associations with the Millennial generation. Less likely are they to be impressed by the big name corporations that rule cities than they are a city's bike sharing program. Portland, Oregon, the pioneering sustainable city, has become the baseline.
What makes Millennials so passionate about a "green city" comes from the heap of frightening projections about the future, both about the health consequences of the technological age and pollution. Likely due to a high numbers of fast food chain locations near schools, BBC reports that one in five children in London is obese, higher than the national average. Weight, which affects health, is intrinsically tied to the physical environment. Living further away from your job or school causes you to take transit, walk less. The longer it takes to commute, the less time you have at home to cook dinner, so perhaps stop in at McDonald's on the way home. "Suburban Sprawl," where people choose to live further away from the city, is the death of the healthy American lifestyle, Speck says. American culture such as the sprawl has been emulated and appropriated in other countries around the world, and now they must follow in America's unhealthy footsteps. But this dangerous way of life is not unique to first-world countries. WHO warns that air pollution in developing countries, where more fossil fuels are burned, has caused life threatening illnesses, such as asthma. Not only is health affected by lifestyle, but also by our abuse of Earth's natural resources.
Not wanting to live in the future world in which these unhealthy lifestyles are only exaggerated, Millennials do what they do best: voice their opinions on the Internet. The sharing of viral videos on up-cycling, new indoor and local farming warehouses, and the latest-and-greatest solar panels have become ways in which Millennials imagine their utopia. In the Millennial future, will every city be a Portland: an oasis of sustainability?
Liz is a senior English major with minors in Spanish and Computer Science. Her research interests, like her areas of academic speciality, lie in the intersections between humanities and science. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing with dogs.