As a borderline millennial, I am in the unique position of seeing the humor in some of the crazy things millennials do and also the crazy side of what some of the older generations accuse the millennial of. One of my personal favorites are companies blaming millennials for killing the fabric softener and laundry detergent industry. One large company even said that millennials don’t know what fabric softener is used for and so that’s why they don’t buy it. Here’s a bit of a confession, I don’t really know what fabric softener is used for, so they weren’t completely wrong. But, if I were going to take a wild guess, I would say that it softens fabrics. I’m aware it probably does much more than that. I would assume it also conditions the fibers of your clothes, helps them to last longer, and because of the “softening” makes them more comfortable to wear. Confession #2- I have never bought fabric softener in my adult life. When I have used it, I can tell that the towels seem to be a bit more fluffy but that’s about it. And because having fluffy towels is low on my priority list, I (like most millennials) choose not to spend extra money on fabric softener. Millennials also are more likely to wear clothes more often between washing. This can potentially sound way more gross than it is, but according to cleaninginstitute.org you can wear a pair of jeans three times before you need to wash them.
In short, millennials aren’t against people using fabric softener or washing their clothes after every individual use, they just have a different expectation of how much money it should cost to wear clean clothes. It can get all sorts of confusing. There are some who have very different definitions of clean, there are some who make their own laundry detergent in 5 gallon buckets for less than $20 a year, and then there are some who are actually against the chemicals in some laundry detergent products. It’s not like millennials planned to take out an industry or to change expectations, but many of them came to the same conclusion for a variety of different reasons.
Why is any of this important? Well, it’s not. At least talking about fabric softener isn’t really that important (unless you’re in the fabric softener business). But what is important is that for all of their quirks, millennial are at least good at asking “Why?”. Why are we spending tens of thousands of dollars on a college education that no longer provides the job opportunities that it did 10 years ago? Why haven’t wages gone up proportionately with the cost of living? Why are kids eating tide pods? Asking why is extremely important.
Almost as important is the phrase “So that…” For every “Why” there should be a “So that”. Why do you brush your teeth? So that my teeth are clean, healthy, and more importantly so that they don’t fall out. Why do we have a thrift store as one of the ministries at our church? So that we can have money to pour back into our community, helping meet their financial needs and point them back towards Jesus. Hopefully you can see the pattern by now. For everything we do at the church, someone is eventually going to ask us why we do that. Why do we eat bread and grape juice once a month? Why are we doing a fall festival on Oct. 28th? Why do you need Jesus? These aren’t just trivial questions, there is a lot of complexity, depth, and beauty in them. There is a reason why we do everything we do, and ultimately that reason is so that we can be better followers of Jesus. But sometimes you have to work to get there. Sometimes you have to ask a lot of whys and get through a lot of so thats, but the important part is that you are thinking about it.