Social Media: Helping the Environment
One Post at a Time

By Kaitlyn Dobyns

Opinion Columnist


Jun 18, 2018


The effect of social media on modern culture has been a huge topic of discussion since the rise of the internet. Most often, this is a negative thing. Journalists and the upfronted generations that come before us feel as though there has been a loss of connection with reality, with the world and the environment going on around us. And while I am certainly not denying a certain extent of this, I do believe that the ideology of this has been blown out of proportion and the importance of what social media provides us has been swept under the rug. The term “millennial” is used with scorn, but, we are not a generation of the oblivious, like is so commonly coined. We are a generation filled with connections and knowledge that is only a touch away, with the full ability to use those connections to start something bigger than ourselves.


The ability of the internet and social media platforms to connect us with our peers is the importance behind it. It is the fact that we can connect with anyone, anywhere across the globe so long as both people are on the same social media platform. This means that we get more knowledge at faster paces and we have an ability to more easily connect with people who feel the same about the issues that we, ourselves, are passionate about. This is where the internet and social media are helping the environment, because they are providing the platforms that are necessary to have these much needed discussions.


Now, when most people think about the environment they most definitely do not think that the smartphone or computer they are using could help save the planet. However, I beg to differ. These devices and the significance they pose by connecting over four billion people around the world is astronomical (Chaffey, 2018). Because of the internet we can have real-time conversations about the natural disasters occurring around the world. We can talk about different legislation that is being published on a global level. We can see when problems need addressing or when movements need strengthening. Personally, I could see a video on the importance of nuclear power as a renewable energy source and instead of only being able to share my ideas with the people I physically come into contact with, a slow and ineffective approach, I could share something globally if I have, or can make, those connections. And this is incredibly significant because there is over four billion people online at any given moment and all it takes is one post to get your voice out there, for someone else to see what you have posted and for it to resonate with them. Because it only takes one spark for an environmental movement to be begin.


The impact of social media for the environmental cause has also been significant because it raises greater awareness on the issues that affect the entire planet. This trend is in part due to the early usage of such media platforms by notable figures like Al Gore and Prince Charles, both of which were early advocates on environmental issues (“Prince Charles honored,” 2007). But in more recent history, media platforms and websites are being used and created for the specific purpose of educating more people on the reality of the declining environmental health. There are websites like “Ekoworld” published by PBS for children to interactively learn about the environment by playing games, and also the generic informational sites published by governmental organizations around the world (Seaman, 2009).


More applicable to us, however, is the use of social media for the advocation of environmental movements. There have been numerous great examples of environmental advocation via use of advertisements on social media pages and by actual people sharing posts to get the word out. One specific example is 4Ocean, which is a movement that advocates for the removal of plastics from the oceans and funds this movement by selling bracelets made from recycled plastics (4Ocean, n.d.). Every month they publish a new monthly cause, typically about an aquatic organism, where they publish information on them in hopes of educating the people about their endangered habitats due to plastics (4Ocean, n.d.). But, by being highly active on social media, the two men who started this company have been able to expand their efforts and have now removed over 800,000 pounds of plastic from the ocean thus far (4Ocean, n.d.).  Their movement has become nationally recognized and they have the potential to develop it into a global effort. And this is exactly how media should be used, because all it took was an idea, some courage, and enough followers to start and maintain a movement.


Therefore, I think it can be said that due to more media postings about these issues, topics like plastic pollution and nuclear energy are being talked about more and more frequently, and the severity of environmental issues are really coming to light. There is no surprise anymore that the planet is in a rough state and that we, as humans, have been a leading cause of the problem. But, we can use the information online to see what is happening in the world, to join movements, to help spread the world, and to start advocating for change. We can make an impact by use of social media and with enough backing we can hopefully convince the world that there can be a better tomorrow if we only protect our planet today.




4Ocean. (n.d.). Our Story. Retrieved from

Chaffey, D. (2018, March 28). Global social media research summary 2018. Retrieved from

Prince Charles honored with HMS’s Global Environmental Citizen Award. (2007, February 01). Retrieved from

Seaman, G. (2009, March 5). Environmental Websites for Kids. Retrieved from

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