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Millennials and Gen Zs are well known for their climate activism, from participating in high-profile Extinction Rebellion protests to leading global student strikes. Now, the younger generation are using the popular social media platform TikTok to raise awareness of the plight of our planet, with hashtags such as “biodiversity” garnering as many as 12.6 million views on the app.
Taking their activism online amid the pandemic, many climate campaigners and student strikers are using TikTok to raise awareness of the ecological destruction of our planet and to promote eco-friendly living habits. Philip Aiken, for instance, who is better known on the video-sharing app as Phil the Fixer, has attracted a whopping 1.4 million likes for his videos on soil restoration and boosting biodiversity in green spaces.
Other eco hashtags, such as “moss” have garnered as many as 84.3 million views on the platform, while “native biodiversity” has been viewed 800,000 times. The most popular videos on these subjects tend to provide short explainers on how to promote biodiversity and support indigenous practices or are snippets warning viewers of mass extinction in the coming years.
Communities have also formed within the app for like-minded eco enthusiasts to network and connect with each other. Known colloquially as “grass TikTok” and searchable under the hashtag “grass” is made up of users who share content about different plant species, rating different backyards and providing sustainable gardening tips. There are around 380 million views in this subculture alone.
Speaking to the Guardian about the trending sustainability topics on the platform, 16-year-old Hawaiian high school student Young-Woong Kee said: “Seeing them and talking about them with my friends has definitely impacted us and made us want to look more into it.” He has since used the platform to learn about caring for plants at home.
But it isn’t just TikTok experiencing a surge of climate activism and awareness-raising in the past few months as millions of young people are spending far more time indoors. On Instagram, the Royal Horticultural Society’s (RHS) Instagram account saw its follower count grow from 99,500 to 125,000 between April and June. At the time of writing, its following is reaching almost 129,000.
However, questions remain about the future of eco activism on TikTok specifically, as the Beijing-based ByteDance-owned app faces a potential ban in the U.S. due to fears over national security.
One thing remains clear – the younger generation are not going to stop voicing their climate concerns online. In a recent survey conducted by Deloitte amongst Gen Zs and millennials, climate change and environmental protection were cited as top issues prior to and during the pandemic.
The demographic have also proven themselves dedicated to the climate cause in their offline actions. Beyond taking to the streets last year, students and young adults have been engaged in action by making drastic changes to their daily habits, from ditching meat and dairy to lower their carbon footprint to boycotting brands that fail to put purpose before profits.
Lead image courtesy of Unsplash.