Investigating the environmental movement on TikTok

Investigating the environmental movement on TikTok
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

It isn’t all dancing and lip-syncing – there’s apparently also an environmental movement on TikTok. Many (especially Millennials) see popular video-sharing app TikTok as just another wasteful social media trend that younger generations have adopted. However, recent posts by the app’s popular environmental activists would suggest otherwise.

Despite more than half of TikTok users being Generation Z (anyone born after 1997), power in numbers, energy, creativity and technological adaptation have produced a youth led movement on TikTok that has gained mass media attention. Over the past year, this global video-sharing platform has helped viral TikTok users raise environmental awareness among millions of viewers around the world – engaging users on issues involving climate justice, sustainability and an overall eco-conscious approach to life.

A movement on TikTok emerges

As a result of eco-friendly influencers finding ways to jam-pack all the information they can pack into an entertaining 60-second video, loyal TikTok communities have been emerging, and what follows are millions of young advocates worldwide supporting the different issues being brought to attention. An accessible and universal social media platform normally used for sharing clips of trendy dances, catchy entertainment, comical skits and more lighthearted fare is finally proving itself to be worthy of something more than just a minute long video of the latest dance challenge. With sustainable and eco-friendly content becoming a new norm, the amount of not just individuals but also companies starting to acknowledge this movement on TikTok is continually growing.

These past couple years, the word “influencer” has been reinvented on TikTok thanks to one of the platform’s many climate leaders – “EcoTok,” a group of diverse Gen Z activists discussing real world climate issues. Realizing that the last two decades they’ve grown up in have seen devastating fires, long droughts and some of the hottest record breaking temperatures the world has ever seen, influencers like EcoTok and Brightly have brought together young environmental activists trying to produce better change for the world. Videos like “traveling to the lowest C02 emitting countries” to clips highlighting “how the most intelligent species on the planet is slowly causing their own extinction,” the content they create has gained millions of followers across the nation.

Even if it seems like this digital community of TikTok users is minuscule and won’t have a lasting impact, the numbers from data tracking are in some cases in the millions (if not billions) when it comes down to view count or followers. The numbers clearly demonstrate the power of social media and online activism in helping to bring spotlight to global climate issues. Young activists on TikTok like Sabrina Wisbiski and Taylor Bright post videos on things like climate literacy and education, eco-friendly date ideas, product sustainability and many more eco-friendly life hacks. Because there are millions of people engaging in these short clipped informative videos, people are beginning to acknowledge a new movement of kids and young adults emerging from the average stereotypical TikTok user.

It seems as if part of the younger generations like Gen Z have come to realize the consequences they’re currently facing and will continue to face because of the world’s mistakes in protecting our planet. Willing to do everything in their power, or in this case through the power of social media, is a group of young content creators who have started mass posting eco-conscious videos bringing awareness to millions. These young people in turn help shape the discussions of climate change and global warming (in a modern way) happening in the upper levels of politics and business. If you thought the TikTok craze was nothing more than 60-second clips of cats doing funny cat things or the latest roller dancing craze or lip-syncing short, this movement on TikTok will have you thinking otherwise.

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