How Instagram Stifles Sustainability

How Instagram Stifles Sustainability

New York City, United States: My nipples almost being ripped off inspired me to write this piece.

Okay, I’m being dramatic but let me explain…

It’s 6 am in New York and I’m at the airport, waiting to fly out. Naturally, I’m getting my last Instagram fix in before the WIFI-less flight and with each swipe down I see a plethora of new things I want. Left thumb scrolling past floral summer dresses and trendy berets, I save and file away each one that catches my eye. I then come across one of those stick on push up bras. I spent one minute looking at this sponsored content weeks ago and it’s been stuck on my feed ever since. So why not? I caved. Two clicks through the photo to Paypal and it’s mine, all the while validating it in my head. “I have so many summer pieces this would work with….”

When I finally got the bra it was such a disappointment, all of the validation was immediately squashed. I’m no stranger to the “fashion is pain” mantra but the stick on glue on this bra was industrial. Made to glue wooden shelves to a wall, not to stick a bra to my lady shelf. It was uncomfortable, painful and had me shrieking when I took it off. It made me ask myself – why was I continuing to buy these things?

Although my ah-ha moment came about to the detriment of my boobs, it made me sit back and realize that this was only one of the completely unnecessary things I had purchased off of Instagram recently. As quickly and thoughtlessly as you can like a photo, you can buy the contents of it. While this is a dream for businesses, “sustainable” or not, it only promotes overconsumption. Click through to purchase a top on sale, click through to purchase new boots, click through to purchase a new dress (with a special discount code as a bonus!).

How Instagram Stifles Sustainability By Promoting Overconsumption

I realized how wasteful of a consumer I’d accidentally become. Even though sustainable and ethically produced goods filled half my closet, the other half had become impulse, one-second purchases obtained via Instagram. These tiny, hastily-made purchases started to build up. Over time your purchases become as disposable as your likes, relevant one day and replaced the next.

'Over time your purchases become as disposable as your likes, relevant one day and replaced the next.' - Caitlyn LaCorataClick To Tweet

Most of what appears on social media, Instagram in particular, is an onslaught of gorgeous women, in gorgeous clothes, basking in their gorgeousness. But how does that affect those following them? More often than not I have found myself following influencers who post incessantly about this “40% off top you need!” or “THE most comfortable sweater – 60% off!”. At first, I gave in and purchased the random “soooo comfy” sweater but after awhile I got sick of the redundancy. I got sick of the “hauls” and got sick of the feeling that I needed to keep buying because I needed to feel as flawless as these influencers looked. At a certain point, the perfectly curated sponsored content has to loosen its grip on your insecurities (and your wallet).

How Instagram Stifles Sustainability and Promotes Materialism

So what have I done to combat the relentless consumerist images on Instagram? 


Less exposure, less temptation.

The easiest and simplest fix was to just start unfollowing. Each time I saw a “haul” post or super sale post from influencers I immediately unfollowed – and I don’t miss them! Following thousands of girls clad in the latest Zara season does not do me any good and if I truly am going to be dedicated to changing the way I shop, their narratives don’t serve me. It all comes back to simple supply and demand; the more you purchase from these brands who do nothing but hawk cheap product, the more they’re likely to advertise to you. Trading out influencers who post hauls with those who share your love of sustainability and environmentalism (you are reading Eco Warrior Princess after all!) will only benefit you in the long run.


Complete with some anxiety. 

Whenever I feel consumed with the social media rat race and the potential purchases— without even thinking twice – I delete the apps. Just for a day or two. Just to give me some clarity and a cold turkey break. The other day I felt a little oversaturated with content and just shoved my phone in between my couch cushions for four hours! Out of sight, out of mind. Separating myself from all of the consumerism has been beneficial and although I still mentally shriek with excitement every time I purchase something new, each piece I do purchase is procured more thoughtfully and therefore appreciated more.

Related Post: How to Make More Time to Live Sustainably

How Instagram Stifles Sustainability By Exposing Us to Consumerism

Parting wisdom

So my advice is to be content, be conscious and be smarter than what’s being sold to you. Don’t be so quick to pull the trigger on the purchases just because it’s easy. By doing that I am cognizant of the fact that I’m becoming a more mindful individual and therefore doing what I can to support the fashion revolution. Even in a world where we’re raised on mass consumption, it’s possible to find little ways to turn it around and lean into sustainable and responsibly-made fashion. You don’t need every beautiful garment you see. Ease up on the planet and your bank account, both will thank you later.

Did you know that individuals in the developed countries consume more than their fair share of the earth’s resources? Read this post if you’re super keen to learn how to consume less.

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