Tanglin Trust teenager, Christina, gives us her opinion on why saving the planet needs to be about taking action, not just clicking like on social media posts...
You’re browsing through Instagram, and you see your best friend, your neighbour, your dog sitter et al share a post advocating for environmental change. Almost everyone has shared similar environmental campaigns over social media at some stage: whether it’s sharing an inspiring quote about living an eco-friendly lifestyle, or promising that for every 1,000 likes, a tree will be planted. But does it really work? Can the simple act of liking or sharing a photo really help save the planet? Is real change actually happening? While sharing these sorts of posts on social media is for a good cause overall, it can also be detrimental. So, we decided to take a closer look at what we can all do to make real change in the world, beyond just liking and sharing on Instagram. We spoke to Tanglin Trust teenager, Christina, to get her thoughts.
Hi Christina! So, are environmental social media campaigns as good as they seem?
“While we all love to believe that we can make a change and do some good in the world we live in, environmental campaigns on social media can make us teenagers (and adults!) think that by just liking a picture or video on Instagram, the environment is saved and we’ve done our part. It can paint a very false image about the state of our planet, leaving people to believe that global warming is something constricted to a screen, not anything beyond that. Mainstream media can cause confusion among social media users, especially teens who spend a significant amount of time on these platforms.”
But isn’t the growing awareness of environmental issues a good thing?
“Our planet is collapsing under a tide of trash, plastic and human misuse, and here we are sat back thinking that we’ve saved it simply because we given a few clicks on social media; when in fact, we haven’t done anything tangible at all. In addition, some teenagers aren’t actually bothered at all about promoting environmental change. They only feign interest because saving the planet is a popular notion right now, and teens don’t like to feel left out. To appear ‘cool’, they’re following what everybody else is doing, and that includes reposting and liking posts about the environment.”
So should we like these campaigns or not?
“These posts aren’t intentionally negative or misleading. And there are obviously many upsides to them, including raising awareness of the adverse effects of climate change, warning people how very real these issues are, and prompting the masses to do something about our dying planet – immediately. And not all of the organisations buying into this form of gaining likes are as villainous as I’ve presented them to be. They’re probably more like The Avengers than Thanos. They attempt to slow down the effects of climate change by planting trees, which admittedly, does make a massive difference. Although planting trees isn’t the single solution to global warming, organisations are still making an impact by bringing the issue of climate change to the forefront.”
How teenagers can make a bigger impact on environmental change
Apart from liking a post on Instagram, teenagers can do so much more to make a legitimate and positive impact on our planet. Our planet’s future is literally in our hands and instead of liking a post about planting trees, teens should take action and plant trees themselves. There are plenty of ongoing environmental events happening in Singapore. LepakInSG is a great resource for environmental events and activities – all listed on one site!
1. Volunteer with NParks
Anyone can volunteer to take part in all sorts of green projects, like gardening, reforestation through family-tree-planting sessions and clean up activities at mangrove swamps. It is always looking for more volunteers, so consider signing up now!
The Green Volunteers; p. 9684 0950, e. [email protected]
2. Clean up our beaches
Teens (and adults too!) can participate in beach clean-up sessions to help keep Singapore’s beaches free of trash. By joining Trash Heroes Singapore in its expeditions, you will be provided with gloves and garbage collection bags so you don’t have anything to worry about (although it’s always better to BYO)! You will also be able to learn about the effects that waste has on the global environment, so it’s the perfect way to start doing your bit.
3. After school activities
Join after school clubs that work towards environmental conservation and sustainability. Tanglin Trust School has a Junior “Green Team” actively observing energy use within the campus, as well as reminding the whole school about environmental responsibility. The older students – like the Year 12 Eco Group, Head Team, and IB ESS students – work to promote environmental change. If your school doesn’t have an environmental club, persuade the appropriate school leaders to let you form one!
4. Make a difference at home
- Eat fish and poultry instead of beef and pork: Skip farm produce that has a higher impact on the environment and switch to alternative protein sources which are a lot less damaging to the planet.
- Ditch the plastic: Avoid buying products that use a lot of plastic and generate waste like individually wrapped candies and snacks.
- Save energy: Turn off electrical devices when you don’t need them.
- Don’t waste water: Don’t take long showers and don’t leave the tap running.
- Recycle: Sort your trash into the appropriate recycling bins. This will ensure that we don’t end up clogging our landfills… yuck!
- Don’t litter: This proves to have an incredibly damaging effect on the environment. Did you know that even Singapore’s beaches have garbage piled up on its shorelines?
- Use reusable bags when you’re shopping: This reduces the amount of plastic you’re using and helps the environment a lot!
- Don’t waste paper or tissues: Wasting paper cups is high tree-son (sorry not sorry)!
5. Save the animals while you’re at it
If you’re really planning to commit yourself to saving animals from a variety of threats (including environmental degradation), consider being a wildlife protector. You can support an animal of your choice for $38 per month.
A time for change
“Humanity just won’t be able to cope with the world we are heading for,” Met Office Scientist Peter Stotts states. People and animals all over the globe are being affected by extreme weather patterns right now, and it will just worsen with time if we don’t do something about it. Our planet is suffering, so let’s all work towards saving it while we can!
The climate is changing – so why aren’t we?