Influencing with impact; from my phone, to the world!
Written by Laura Young, Student and Environmental Campaigner
Everyone has an opinion on social media, covering everything from the good, to the bad, to the ugly. But how does social media influence sustainability, environmentalism and living a less impactful lifestyle?
For me, social media is key. The key to my accountability, the key to my platform, and the key to my learning. It is one thing sitting in my masters university classes learning the in’s and out’s of sustainability, but another to live it and share it with friends, family and strangers. If the only place we learned about environmentalism and sustainability was in the classroom, it would be a losing battle trying to make the big change our world needs.
Since starting my online journey, a year and a half ago, my platform has grown giving me the opportunity to share what I have learned, and continue to learn, with masses of people. Instead of this knowledge staying in my head and in my notebooks, it is being shared across the globe for everyone to see. If you hit the nail on the head, it’s easy for something to go viral. Social media provides a platform to make big changes, with minimal effort. From a 140 character Tweet to a full Instagram caption or Facebook story, we have the power to educate and motivate people about the issues we care about the most.
There are various examples which spring to mind when I think about digital platforms being a driver for change. Whether that’s driving change because you shared a recycling tip, or driving change because you unravelled a complex and confusing sustainability conundrum into bite size easy-to-read chunks for everyone to see, this is a new platform for education and clarity in an otherwise uncertain world.
Most recently I spoke at the TEDx Glasgow event to 2000 people. Social media allowed that message to be spread much further and wider than it ever would be without this platform. People from all over the world could hear the 9 minute video all about what they could do as an individual to make a huge impact on the environment. Not just that, they could also find a wealth of more information from social media on how to go above and beyond on their journeys. After my talk, I wrote a blog all about where people could find plastic free milk options near them. This was after my end scene bringing on the ginormous piles of plastic bottles which represented a years-worth of milk for the average family. This was a direct call to action against one of the biggest plastic sources in our homes. Social media took a 9 minute talk to an audience in Glasgow across the globe and made on-the-ground real change with people swapping out plastic from their lives.
Social media is also a place where I find myself learning everyday. By following other people from all walks of life all over the world, I am learning about how sustainability looks for different people, and deepening my understanding of the complexity of each issue. I also use it as a platform for accountability. It is a great place to be held accountable for our individual actions, and be transparent about our flaws but also accomplishments. In a world where social media can be a place to feel unworthy or envious, sustainability platforms are full of inspiring people showing the power of individuals living normal everyday lives! I find myself happy and inspired daily by the great work people are doing across the world every day.
One of the things people constantly get in touch about is how approachable they feel my platform, and others in the sustainability community are. These are safe spaces to share information, educate, get advice and praise one another’s achievements! I pride myself in sharing honest, factual and friendly information, to hopefully inspire, motivate and educate people! Social media takes the message further than any other platform could!
Watch Laura’s Tedx Glasgow talk below.
Laura Young is a student and environmental campaigner based in Edinburgh who shares her passion for the environment through her Less Waste Laura blog and social media channels.
To find out more, visit her website here.