Green Corner: The strength of social media for sustainability

It’s no secret that college-aged students are addicted to their social media accounts. The time dedicated toward sharing selfies with Snapchat friends, tweeting daily mishaps and posting meals on Instagram can add up quickly. But social media don’t have to solely exist as a distraction from obligations. Every day, thousands of people use these sites to connect their communities with those across the globe, using their voices to make positive changes.
Social media have been incredibly useful for activists seeking to gain support in their efforts. Modern environmental organizations, such as 350.org and Energy Action Coalition, promote their initiatives largely through the use of hashtags and reposting the actions of others. This helps to get key terms and issues trending and into the public eye, gaining more attention towards sustainability, just as with any other social media-based campaign. In fact, #sustainability was used in over 52,000 tweets in the past month, according to Topsy. During this time, the tag was used between 500 and 3,000 times daily, and it is only one of many related to environmental issues.
Recently President Barack Obama joined in this practice, taking to Twitter for advocacy of environmental action. Just this month, the president made news when he spent three days in Alaska, posting live videos, pictures and reflections about climate change and restoring the native name to the peak formerly named Mount McKinley. Popular platforms allowed him to share the stories of those on the frontlines who are feeling the devastating effects of rising atmospheric temperatures. He posted a photo on Instagram during day two of the trip, displaying the signposts at Exit Glacier which mark ice melt recession. The widespread viewership of this photo helped to shed light on the gravity of the issue for many who would never see this image in person.
Students can similarly act online, putting their accounts to good use. On campus, an alternative social media platform is also on the rise, called InnerView. Previously known as myActions, this site was first introduced to the Rider community during the Recyclemania contest last spring, which earned our school a Silver Level Student Action Award.
It encourages using posts more positively, promoting sustainability and community service-related actions in which students partake. The Eco Reps also keep the green posts rolling by managing the @broncsgogreen accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. We also share daily articles and posts about environmental issues on the Facebook pages, Rider Lawrenceville and Westminster Eco Reps.
Just like President Obama and environmental movement organizers, using this or other sites helps to contribute towards the conversations about these issues. Any person, anywhere, with access to the Internet can use his or her account to learn and become more involved. The more we talk about climate change and sustainability, online or elsewhere, the higher priority these topics become among media and political networks. Meanwhile, be sure to follow our accounts and check out InnerView to start using your social media for good.

–Lexi Reynolds
Lawrenceville Eco Rep

 

Printed in the 09/23/15 issue.

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