Millennials get blamed for a lot of things. They’re held responsible for killing everything from marriage to motorcycles. Give them this, though: They’re also responsible for helping usher in a new era of corporate responsibility, one where brands are expected to at least market themselves as socially responsible. Millennials aren’t content with the status quo, and they want to hold corporate feet to the fire and remind them that money doesn’t have to be the main driving force behind everything. If a company behaves in a way that people find abhorrent, then that company risks a wave of bad publicity that could lead to fewer customers. Customers are trying to do their research and frequent companies that walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

How we consume products

The earth is not a supply closet that we can just raid indefinitely. We have to do a better job of working with what’s already out there. Recycling and upcycling are the key to making sure our children and grandchildren have a pleasant place to live. Almost every business owner can do their part. Coffee shops can try to serve their lattes and caramel macchiatos in recycled cups. Restaurants can stop using styrofoam take-out containers. Even laundromats can look into laundry wastewater recycling as a way to both cut costs and help the planet.

Some business owners won’t do any of these things, though, if their customers don’t encourage them to act ethically. Customers shouldn’t badger a grocery store if it’s still using plastic bags instead of paper ones, for instance, but they can write a letter to the corporate offices and ask them to start selling reusable grocery bags branded with the store’s logo. Some solutions are more obvious than others. Many restaurants don’t know they can hire a cooking oil disposal and conversion company to collect the oil they produce and turn that oil into biodiesel fuel. Fuel made from vegetable oil or animal fat keeps fuel systems cleaner and leads to fewer emissions. It’s also less costly than traditional diesel fuel. It’s a great way for today’s tater tots to turn into tomorrow’s fuel for the family sedan.

Buying local

We all know about Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving, but in recent years, a new holiday called Small Business Saturday has received a groundswell from support from consumers who aren’t completely satisfied with big box retailers and gigantic online retailers. It encourages shoppers to visit their locally-owned shops and provide more support to your area’s economy. If that sounds like a good idea, know that you don’t have to wait until the last Saturday in November to get started. One thing you can do any day of the year? Close your account at a big national bank and switch to a regional credit union. Credit unions are owned by their members rather than a board of shareholders, and that means they can offer lower interest rates and premier checking accounts. There are credit unions that cater to specific industries, but in most cases, all you need to do to be eligible to join is live or work in the area. You’ll feel more closely connected with your community, and as a bonus, you won’t have to feel embarrassed the next time there’s a major banking scandal.

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