Using social media presence for good

To work in conservation you must develop skills in the arts – the art of patience, the art of tolerance, and the art of optimism.  These have not always come naturally to me, but I have learnt a lot over the last few years and have come a long way.  Today, however, I am going to express a fairly strong opinion on behalf of the environment and non-human animals.  

I would first like to award full credit to those who have capitalised on the power of social media to make a living (even excelled); many empower young ladies to love their bodies, many advise fitness enthusiasts, and many provide healthy recipes, pro beauty tips, or outfit ideas etc.  And by doing so they live a flexible life, doing what they love.  It’s great 🙂

BUT

These people who have, possibly quite unintentionally, built a large following and a positive reputation online have such a big influence on…the whole world really. Their reach is global.  Unfortunately, every single day I see streams of images on social media of take-away coffee cups, smoothies with plastic straws, plastic shopping bags, and people standing next to wild, endangered (drugged, might I add) animals.  These images glamourise such activities; activities that are unethical and unsustainable.

We really need to start appreciating just how powerful social media is.   All of us scroll through Instagram, instantly wishing for a coffee when we see a perfectly edited photo of a manicured hand holding a take-away mocha, or wanting to jump on a plane to Africa when we witness cute cuddles between human and lion cub.  But neither of these practices is at all acceptable anymore.  And the simple matter is, there is no issue at all blogging about coffee, life-on-the-go, or wildlife encounters, but a little research and a little consideration for sustainable practices is all that is required.  

Particularly, when you consider that the up and coming generations are now creating social media accounts from a very young age.

A Starbucks plastic takeaway cup and straw.
One of the biggest offenders – Starbucks.

What bothers me more is the fact that it’s acceptable to flaunt unethical practices and unsustainable livelihoods (sometimes unknowingly, which I appreciate), but it’s seen as negative to write a simple and polite message (many are not polite when they do this, therefore, I do not refer to them here) advising the blogger about the ethical implications, and requesting that they research more sustainable practices.

This request is not for the benefit of the author, or for the benefit of the blogger.  It is for the benefit of the planet.  Can we not look past our own egos and our own interests for one minute to realise that there are wider implications to what we say and do?  Please put aside bitterness and resentment towards the commenters, take a step back, and realise that we simply advocate for a healthier planet.  

Education is key in conservation and environmentalism, and that is all we (I speak for myself, anyway) are trying to do.  It just seems to have reached a point where you cannot say anything anymore without being pegged as judgemental and preachy.  It is sad that some people should be willing to ignore their impacts on the planet simply because they’re irritated that an eco-blogger has commented on their post referring to plastic pollution or climate change.

Like it or not, if you become a public figure and have an influence on the wider community, I personally see it as responsible to demonstrate ethical and sustainable lives; as subtle as that might be (even if that just means avoiding plastic water bottles).

Leonardo DiCaprio has used his position and influence to promote amazing causes, and artists and actors incorporate messages about equality, peace, and acceptance into their Emmy, Grammy, or Oscar speeches.  Whilst a large following on Instagram may not quite compare with winning an Oscar, I am simply trying to show you that public figures are starting to realise the power they have, the power that so many of us working in the field don’t have, and they understand that this can be used to spread awareness.  

Leonardo DiCaprio giving a speech on Before The Flood
If you haven’t watched Before The Flood, I recommend you do 🙂 – Credit: National Geographic

Environmentalism may not be everybody’s cup of tea, so bloggers shouldn’t feel the need to fill a weekly segment with the latest climate change news.  Yet, considering the global issues we face, it would be amazing to see more eco-friendly posts amongst the Instagram blogging community.

I do apologise if I have offended anybody.  But, I can assure you that, relative to my level of frustration on the matter, this post has remained pretty conservative.  Our impact on the planet and the creatures we share it with are the only real victims here – not bloggers and not me.  And it is with that thought in mind that I have expressed my opinions.

Happy Hump Day ❤

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