How Millenials Can Change the Stormwater Landscape (For the Better)
By Preston Vawdrey
Working in a stormwater-conscious environment can sometimes be disheartening. The common joke around the office is nobody intends to get into stormwater but they fall into it. But maybe over the next few years, we could see a slight change in this tone.
I think Millennials could be the key.
Stormwater is possibly the one thing every person could/should and would be willing to contribute to. As the mayor of Livingston New jersey put it, “We all want clean water, so we share the responsibility.”
This isn’t a new idea. The EPA has been trying to encourage the shared responsibility for a while with rules like, “[to] implement a public education program to distribute educational materials to the community, or conduct equivalent outreach activities about the impacts of stormwater discharges on local water bodies and the steps that can be taken to reduce stormwater pollution…”
But the sharing of this responsibility has been a daunting task for quite a while. Numerous factors affect the ability of MS4’s to educate the public, among these include lacking funds, lacking public support, and a lackluster attitude to stormwater education. To be fair, many have launched education outreach platforms in elementary schools and at local education fairs.
But there may be some hope in the new stormwater awareness effort. Millennials. Why? Simply put, Millennials bring a different attitude to the game.
According to Andrew McCaskill, “Consumers are willing to pay extra for one thing: sustainability. This is especially true for Millenials. While 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, a full 73% of Millenials are [willing].”
This reflects a desire of Millennials to engage in the lifestyle they believe in, a core requirement for stormwater to become a household topic.
That’s nearly ¾ of the population! If there was anything to sell as a lifestyle it’s stormwater conscientiousness! Not to mention, with the advances in social media, selling the lifestyle of stormwater-educated individuals is easier than ever before.
Stormwater is a pretty easy concept to understand too. How many times have you heard the phrase “only rain down the drain?” Within the first month of my stormwater employment, I probably heard it a million times. Of course, you can take a deeper dive into how stormwater picks up various sediments, scatters pollution between waterways, and could potentially end up in drinking waters. But that can be encapsulated in the 5-word phrase, only rain down the drain.
With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, many consumers are learning about how they can live a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle. Stormwater should be a part of that lifestyle, and Millennials are starting the wave.