Social media is rapidly transforming the world as we know it. As of 2019, there are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide — and growing! For context, this is 45% of the world’s population — nearly 11 times as many people as there are in the United States. So, tired of forcing just your friends to read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything? Expand your outreach and take your activism to the next level by hopping on social media and advocating for the planet!
Step 1: Research, Research, Research!
The first step to becoming an advocate is to become a student of the environment. So do your homework. Guided by your unique passions, become an intrepid explorer of the treasure troves of content on environmentalism, both online and in the world around you. If you’re a foodie, think about the impact your Shake Shack visits have on the planet (Spoiler alert: they’re not great). If you’re fashion-forward, consider how your clothes have been manufactured and maintained. If you’re a student, create or attend meetings at an environmental club. If you’re into econ and investment, consider alternative sustainable investment routes that won’t put your hard-earned money into corporations producing a negative long-term environmental or social impact. Read some articles. Peruse some informative books. Ask your local farmer’s market on how to go green. Download apps like Oroeco and Good on You, which tell you if your daily habits are sustainable. Investigate ways to become zero-waste at a low-budget. The possibilities are endless!
Below are some sustainability resources (articles, websites, blogs, podcasts, and books) that I’ve found personally helpful or have been recommended to me:
- A Beginner's Guide to Sustainable Living
- 100+ Simple Tips for a Sustainable Lifestyle
- 5 Tips for Sustainable Eating
- 8 Eco-Friendly Grocery Store Hacks
- The Good Trade
- Sustainably Chic
- Eco Warrior Princess
- This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein
- The Story of Stuff: How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing the Planet, Our Communities, and our Health—and a Vision for Change, Annie Leonard
- The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here, Hope Jahren
- The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, David Wallace-Wells
- The Conscious Closet, Naomi Klein
- Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, William McDonough
- The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan
- Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
- Green Meat?: Sustaining Eaters, Animals, and the Planet, Ryan M. Katz-Rosene and Sarah J. Martin
- Good Together (Brightly’s own podcast!), Laura and Liza
- The YIKES Podcast, Mikaela Loach and Jo Becker
- Outrage and Optimism, Global Optimism
Step 2: Set Up the Account
Create a new account on any social media platform, whether that’s Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, or even a blog. Then, establish 1) a great handle, 2) a matching aesthetic, and 3) a niche.
- A handle or username is how your audience will identify and connect with you. It’s their “first impression” of virtual-you, so make sure it’s a great one! A successful handle or username will tell your audience what you do as well as who you are. @Ecowarrior101, for example, is a great handle that tells your audience that you are an environmental advocate and educator, whereas something like @emily193 doesn’t convey a lot of relevant information.
- To create graphic content for a meticulously curated feed, Canva is a great choice for a free and easy design tool.
- What do you publish content about? Whether it be tips on sustainable living or educational content on global warming, make sure that your niche is broad enough to yield content yet unique enough to be appealing to your audience.
Protip: Another alternative is to use the accounts you already have for advocacy! Why waste perfectly good resources, right?
Step 3: Expand Your Following
Like, comment, and subscribe. Retweet. You know the drill. There are plenty of resources online for more information on social media marketing and specific-platform tips for how to grow your reach, so I won’t mince words here. Below are some tips you can use to create and maintain a large social media following:
- Posting frequently on stories and highlights
- Engaging with followers through comments and likes
- Creating a social circle of similarly-minded environmentalist accounts
- Maintaining a beautiful and informative feed
Step 4: Be Mindful of Social Media's Limits
Have you ever reposted or reblogged an Instagram post about the garment workers’ crisis in Bangladesh, for example, then stopped thinking about it altogether and felt really great about yourself for your activism? This is the pitfall of “clicktivism,” which is increasingly becoming a problem on social media.
This is why it’s crucial to be mindful that social media, while it’s capable of making a great impact, is also a platform limited to communication. Action, on the other hand, requires us to take a moment apart from our screens to truly deliberate on choices that can change the way we live, whether that’s revamping our diets or decreasing our carbon footprint by shopping locally. Let’s focus on social media activism that inspires action, not clicks.
Have more tips on how to use social media to become an environmentally-friendly advocate? Become a Brightly ambassador and let us know!