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#Sustainability: Tik-Tok spreads the word

Updated: Apr 21

By Emma Harris

Publication Date: March 31, 2021

The tik tok logo on a phone with a pink background

Picture this: The weather is getting warmer and you’re sitting in the hammocks scrolling through TikTok to pass the time. You see people doing dance challenges, posting about things that “just make sense,” maybe you even see the Rider Tour Guides pop up on your For You Page (FYP), but how is TikTok content contributing to larger conversations?

With hashtags like #sustainability or #ecotok and over 200 million views, the short videos produced on TikTok are getting millennials and Generation Z more involved in sustainability than ever before.

The short clips provide content creators with a platform to spread personable and digestible content that other social media sites just can’t compete with. Many sustainability creators on TikTok reference the “perfection” of sustainability on Instagram — it highlights a lifestyle that is not realistic for most people by promoting 100% zero-waste lifestyles with expensive products and services.

TikTok, on the other hand, allows creators to get more real with their audiences. It is important to take steps towards becoming more sustainable, not being 100% perfect all at once.

Content creator Megan McSherry, @acteevism on TikTok, said to Refinery29 that when faced with the Instagram aesthetic of sustainability, “You just end up spending all your time asking yourself: Are you even making a difference? Are you really good enough? But right now, we need everyone to do every little thing they can — pressuring governments and corporations who can make the big changes. We don’t need everybody to have a perfectly zero-waste kitchen.”

The biggest push in the sustainability community is toward conscious consumerism, or the idea that consumers should understand the environmental impact that their purchases have and where the products come from. This often comes in the form of promoting small and sustainable businesses.

The younger generations of activists recognize that corporations must be held accountable for their environmental impacts in business practices and the best way to do that is to redirect purchases to businesses that practice eco-friendly production.

Additionally, creators can share their strategies for reducing waste. From thrifting hauls to upcycling tutorials, TikTok promotes the discovery of videos that can go viral almost instantly and reach an audience bigger than ever before. Because of this, conversations about sustainability must continue on the platform.

Senior musical theater major Daniel Booda said about his TikTok feed, “I originally didn’t interact with a lot of the videos about climate change or the environment on my feed, but the more I saw the more I understood how easy it can be to make sustainable choices. Now I try to thrift as much as possible and find that I often like the clothes I thrift more than the ones that I bought from fast fashion stores.”

Platforms like TikTok allow conversations about sustainability to become much more accessible to younger generations, on whom the most significant effects of climate change will fall.

Junior musical theatre major and Eco-Rep, Ashlyn Whiteside said, “TikTok has created a platform for spreading awareness in a lighthearted and informative way that has truly shaped our generation’s culture. If one knowledgeable person leads by example, others will follow.”

And truly, others will follow.

Be sure to check out @broncsgogreen on TikTok and follow along for more sustainable content!

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