Social media plays a huge role in raising awareness of issues. Today's world is super connected and our thoughts and opinions can instantly be communicated globally. Now, more than ever, there is opportunity for different perspectives to be heard. You don't need to be an influencer to have your say, anyone can use their online voice as a powerful tool for change.
Using your online voice for the good of the planet
Using your online voice to create change for our planet is something you may not have thought about. It could even be something you're already doing without realising it. Signing petitions, following accounts doing good work on social media, "liking" and commenting on their posts. All of these things are contributing to the climate change conversation.
For people, like me, who hesitate to "speak up" on issues in person, because they lack confidence or shy away from conflict, your online "voice" can be your best tool for sharing your opinion. It is also a really convenient and easy way to show your support for climate initiatives.
Start small and build when you are confident
There is a whole array of social media platforms that you can use as vehicles for your voice. You can start low key by participating in an online petition. All the hard work has been done for you and simply by adding your name and clicking a button you are showing your support. As you build your confidence you can add comments to Facebook and instagram posts and take part in conversations by adding your say. Once you have developed your opinions on a certain topic, have done your research or feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, you can start re-sharing posts on your Instagram story or even making your own Instagram stories about issues you feel strongly about. This is a great way to start having conversations about climate change or plastic pollution with your network of friends and followers.
Vote with your wallet
If you are passionate about a particular sector or you have just seen something that makes your blood boil - speak up directly to the companies online. Let's say it's an article you have just read about a fast fashion chain's factories that leak toxic chemicals into rivers and the atmosphere, causing death and disease in villagers who bathe and swim in those polluted waters. Along with social media action, you could also make a pact with yourself not to buy from these brands, but now you have the opportunity, literally at your fingertips, to voice your disapproval to the world. Facebook has 2.41 billion monthly active users with 71% of adults and 51% of teenagers using it in America. And 500 million people worldwide use Instagram stories every day. So, take to the brand's Facebook wall or Instagram account and tell them, and all their followers, why their brand needs to improve if they want your dollars. Ignorance is bliss and customers will keep buying if they are not made aware.
Equally, praise brands that are doing the right thing and post them a gleaming recommendation. I follow a denim brand on Instagram that excels in social and environmental responsibility, using less water and energy to minimise their impact on the environment. This denim brand was founded as an avenue for the training, employment, and career progression for women who had experienced exploitation.
View this post on InstagramToday my jeans are made with less water and less energy. #madeonpurpose #whatdidyourjeansdo
A post shared by Outland Denim (@outlanddenim) on
I am enthusiastic about what they are doing and by commenting on their Instagram posts, aim to help create awareness to new customers and prompt their competitors to do better. Show others how we can change our world by voting with our wallets, calling out brands doing the wrong thing and supporting those who are doing good for people and the planet!
Try writing a Blog
Writing Blogs is an amazing way to share "your voice" on topics you have special interest in and expertise. I wrote my first Blog last year on "Sustainable Salons"which was prompted by a trip to a local hairdresser who was a member of this group that diverts 95% of salon waste from landfill. I was so excited by what I learned during my appointment (like hair cuttings are collected and used to make oil booms to soak up coastal oil spills) and subsequent online research that I wanted to share this to make more people aware. The blog got 1600 likes and lots of shares too. Look at the pitching guideline from a publication or online blog whose values align with yours and start brainstorming. You don't have to write a blog to use your voice - you can make a positive comment, share the blog or decide to use a sustainable salon for your next appointment.
Show your support for organisations doing great work
If you are following organisations doing great environmental work on social media, be sure to like, comment and share their posts that really resonate with you. Chances are your social media friends will want to follow them too. Be prepared to have a productive conversation even when someone posts something negative. Let's say an environmental group is suggesting to "cut down meat and eat more plant-based meals to lower carbon emissions" and someone comes back with a comment "if everyone goes vegan what is going to happen to the beef industry?". You can jump in and reassure them with "It's all about cutting down! I don't think they are suggesting everyone becomes vegan right now, it's about replacing some meat meals with plant-based meals" or if you are well versed on the subject can present them with research and facts on the agriculture industry. Back your comments up with researched facts "Cutting down just one red meat meal a week (100 grams / 3.5 ounces), you will save approximately 2.2 kilograms (4.8 pounds) of CO2".
Use your voice and vote to hold politicians accountable online
Never underestimate how powerful your voice and vote are in making change. Small acts, when multiplied, can change the world. I volunteer in an MPs office in my electorate, once a week, and I see the power of our individual voice first hand. Email campaigns do get heard by the MPs and ultimately can influence decisions. Every email received by this MPs office is logged and tagged with its specific issue. When there is a high volume of emails about one particular issue, that is raising concern for constituents, this can force, the MP to take it to parliament.
So, be noisy, use your voice, inspire others and change will happen sooner. Don't leave it to someone else.
By Allison Licence
Allison Licence is a Sydney-based freelance writer and 1 Million Women volunteer who is passionate about the environment and finding ways to live more sustainably.