In 2017 when I came across the Eco Warrior Princess (EWP) on Instagram, I was intrigued. Its page was unique and well curated with pictures and stories that made you want to crawl into your own phone and try some of the vegan treats that I saw. Much more than the pictures were the contents. They were thoughtful, solid and well-presented. I was drawn to the site and I found myself snooping and reading its pages. Simply put; I was thoroughly impressed. Here was an eco platform that presented its content in the most beautiful ways possible but delving even deeper; challenged the status quo in ways that made one think, presenting thoughtful pieces and arguments on sustainability that I had never before seen. Sustainability is a way of life and this eco-warrior was talking the talk and from all indications also walking the walk; the whole nine yards.
From reading and later writing for EWP, I discovered more green living sites and eco-blogs. At any time, I would have multiple tabs open, digesting various wonderful content, gradually growing on an eco-journey that I never even knew I would embark on. I developed a system; I would go through Instagram scouring handles and then looping over to their websites.
Lately, the experience has not quite been the same. Sure, I have been coming across a lot of Instagram handles. However, the problem lies when you follow up on their content. When I click over to their sites, I am confronted by synthetic posts about lip balms and sunscreens. The highpoint is celebrating someone’s success in managing to use glass jars to store their food.
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I worry that sustainable lifestyle sites and eco-blogging has become more about breathtaking pictures and Instagram feeds. They are often filled with listicles and catchy headings devoid of substance. In the near future, it may become another blogging niche like “Blockchain” or “SEO” where endless articles are churned out in a bid to garner readers and gain visibility, but lacking in any real depth.
When you google eco lifestyle blogs, the images you see are the well-curated feeds of women in loose white dresses, lounging leisurely in white sands in oft grassy backgrounds. And of course, the flat lays, let us not forget the flat lays. Endless pictures of flat lays touting the organic qualities of one natural skin care item or the cosmetic other.'I worry that sustainable lifestyle sites and eco-blogging has become more about breathtaking pictures and Instagram feeds. They are often filled with listicles and catchy headings devoid of substance...'Click To Tweet
There are often no mention or pictures of actual farming or anything related to the real origins. In the rare occasion that they are shown, they are well-orchestrated pictures of a beautiful woman puttering around with a handful of brown earth turned unnaturally brown because of the editing and filter applied to the picture. Rarely do we see pictures of families working hard to make their farms remain organic in the face of overwhelming corporate competition.
If eco-living were a neighborhood, I feel that it would be a gated community, developed on the site of a cleared forest where the houses would have white picket fences and the neighbours would have cute poodles and putter away in their well-manicured lawns while complementing each other on having managed to step away from the noise of the world and all its “unsustainability”. Meanwhile, two blocks away, the city would be going to hell and the forests would disappear to build an urban sprawl filled with more gated communities.
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No longer is the fight for the environment about protest demonstrations and fighting big corporations and governments on their destructive systems and policies. No longer is it about getting your hands dirty stopping logging companies. We seem to have moved on from those. We seem to have christened it with words like “sustainability”, “eco-friendly”, “zero waste” and “eco-fashion”. The go-to tools for eco-activism have become good cameras, increasing numbers of Instagram feeds and reusable coffee cups.'No longer is the fight for the environment about protest demonstrations & fighting big corporations & governments on their destructive systems... The go-to tools for eco-activism have become good cameras, increasing numbers of IG feeds and reusables...'Click To Tweet
Now, this article is not intended to criticize; no. It is intended to raise questions. Perhaps these eco-friendly organizations and blogs are simply not getting the coverage they deserve. In my recent article, “Why We Need More Intellectuals To Be Influencers and Noisemakers“, I advocated for a more outspoken and robust online presence for intellectuals generally and sustainability-focused establishments in particular. I pointed out that glossy Instagram feeds and huge Twitter feeds are not only important but are exactly what the sustainability movement needs. So, on the one hand, I sincerely understand the need for endless listicles and picture-perfect social media feeds.
But I also come from a society where “eco-living” is not exactly a thing, and recycle bins are few. I come from a society where shops can’t be bothered to look for paper cups even if they were cheaper than plastic cups. I come from a society where poverty would make a community cut down trees older than their oldest settlers, as long as it means that the community can earn some money if they sold the timber off as potential charcoal. A society where shopkeepers would look at me funny if I came with my own paper bag to buy my groceries. I admit I am not much of an environmental activist, not yet. I’m still budding and perhaps that is precisely the reason I can write this article.
I love nature and the environment. I have always held the men and women who fought to conserve it to be heroes and heroines. It might seem an unfair weight to put on their shoulders, but then, that is how I see it. So, I am asking my heroes and heroines – are we doing enough?
Or have we begun to whitewash this fight for a more sustainable future?
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