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Sustainability Bridges the Generation Gap

By Will Hauser and Lauren Walters

The “sustainability generation” is a moniker most typically associated with Millennials. They are, after all, the generation that has grown up around hybrid vehicles, mainstream recycling, and locally sourced food movements.

They’re the generation so fluent in social media and online networking that building movements and impacting wholesale change for societal improvement is a reflexive action ingrained in everyday lifestyle. This generation is further characterized by a self-assurance that individual actions can and do make a difference.

Arguably though, the title of the “sustainability generation” could be just as easily claimed by the baby boomers whose early activism spurred awareness of environmentalism and demanded new approaches to better health and wellness for the human family.
The intergenerational approach to sustainability is something we see every day at Two Degrees, the first one-for-one food company in the world, which we founded a year ago to fight childhood hunger. For every Two Degrees nutrition bar sold, a medically-formulated nutrition pack is delivered to a malnourished child. The 35-year age gap between us, the co-founders of Two Degrees Food, creates a unique perspective to inform our approach to sustainability,  how our respective peer groups operate (and, critically, what motivates them), how best to shape what we do as a company, and how we do it.

For Will, who is 25 years old, there is a certainty of thinking about our mission where those in their 30s or 40s would be skeptical. As Will sees it, it doesn’t seem overly ambitious or odd at all that global malnutrition can be battled by everyday consumers simply purchasing a nutrition bar at the grocery store. Will has helped us see and shape a deliberate connection between cause and everyday lifestyle. And how to take advantage of a “plugged in” generation whose world consists increasingly of close connections and who share our belief that affecting change on the other side of the globe is simply and literally only Two Degrees away.

At 60, Lauren’s insights and connections have helped us bridge to stakeholders and customers who may not traditionally link commerce with social causes and who at times may question the relevance of how the singular purchase of a nutrition bar can combat global hunger. So, we’ve learned that as important as our message and our mission, our product itself has to stand on its own. We have to have mass appeal if we want to motivate the masses and that means creating a product that is competitive in the market and appealing to the appetite.

Despite our different ages, our backgrounds and approaches to achieving our objective of helping children who are malnourished are complementary and have been instrumental in building a thriving social venture. It is an intergenerational, collaborative approach that we believe can be a new model for achieving systemic change.

Will Hauser is Co-Founder and President of Two Degrees Food

Lauren Walters is Co-Founder and CEO of Two Degrees Food

3p Contributor

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