New research on Generation Z

When beginning my work experience at Waterwise, I wondered where I could bring the most value during my two-week placement. I decided to carry out a research project to conduct social research into the water behaviours and environmental attitudes of the Generation Z age group, of which I am one. I am very interested in how much my peers know about water efficiency and whether they have different habits from other generations. I created a survey and was pleased to receive 100 respondents. 

Generation Z (Gen Z) is the group of people who are born after the so-called ‘millennials’. Definitions differ, but it’s generally agreed that people born between the years 1996 and 2006 are classified as Gen Z.

It was important to me to gather information from people who don’t already work in the water or environmental sector or study it at university. Although the sample wasn’t scientifically selected, we can hope it was a good representation of views and values of the average Gen Z person. I wanted to discover whether in a world of increasing environmental awareness, media attention and political unrest around climate change, Gen Z has a good understanding of water efficiency. 

I asked 10 questions encompassing awareness of water efficiency and water use and water-using behaviours. See some of the highlights here: 

  • 97% of Generation Z thought that they were equally, if not more, environmentally-friendly than their parents. 
  • 82% of respondents knew that there was embedded water in their clothes and food, contributing to their carbon footprint. Hidden water is an issue which Waterwise had previously thought that the general public wasn’t aware of. 
  • We wanted to discover what advice Gen Z had been given by their education institutions on water efficiency or the environment in general. 64% of respondents said that they had received no information from their school, college or university. This group appear to be educated on the topic yet have not received this via formal routes. Could it be possible that Gen Z has been influenced by social media campaigns, TV broadcasts or books on the environment rather than school?
  • In understanding the water behaviours of Generation Z, it was clear that they have significantly more showers than baths and that the average shower time is 4-8 minutes, however, some admitted to showering for over 12 minutes! A campaign targeted at a behaviour change of Gen Z could concentrate on reducing this to 4 minutes.

The results are very positive, you can read the full report in the Waterwise database. As Gen Z start buying homes and becoming leaders, we can be hopeful that they will make the right choices for our water resources and planet. 

By Martha Makin, Social Policy Student, University of Bristol