Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State and the author of Generation Me, decided to find out if Gen Y-ers really do care about the planet as much as they claim. “I thought it was possible people are channeling their narcissism and need for positive response into being green,” she said. Twenge is so harsh that if she’d written those Tom Brokaw books, she would have described the Greatest Generation as cheap and too militaristic.
Turns out Gen Y is as green as an oil spill. In her study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology–which I normally get just for the pictures–Twenge found that today’s high school seniors and college freshmen make far less effort to help the environment than baby boomers did at that age. Compared with boomers and Generation X-ers, Gen Y-ers are the least willing to cut down on driving and electricity use. “There was a lot more questioning of materialism in the 1970s. Now it’s just like, Let’s all live like the Kardashians,” she said. Though in Gen Y’s defense, being a Kardashian back in the 1970s didn’t seem so great, since it involved a lot of hanging out with O.J. Simpson.