How to Be an Environmental Influencer

Environmentalism isn’t a competition. That’s why I want to share with you the steps I took to build this page. It was not easy. In fact, I think I worked harder on this project in the last two years than I did my B.A. and I cannot believe how the page has grown. It makes me feel like I am actually making a small difference.

I am posting this because zero waste and environmentalism shouldn’t be a competition amongst each other or anyone. Unless it’s a competition to see who can pick up the most trash on a beach cleanup. You’re going down!! But seriously, the more our pages grow, the more eyes we can open. And I believe that is the most effective way to change minds: by demonstration, not opinion.

So how do you grow your page? First, you need to figure out:

What is your overall goal?

Are you a company? An activist group? Student strikers? An NPO? Are you trying to convey a single message or simply spread awareness about a cause?

If your a company, be weary. Selling anything as zero waste can get you a lot of flack if viewers don’t believe your company is legit. Make sure to show your material sources, how you ship your products, who makes them. We don’t want to ask. You should be up front about these things! Why are YOUR straws in another country better than the ones I have in my state? If your a local company somewhere remote, hashtagging #zerowastecalifornia may get you some likes, but probably not much else. Instead, try to gain viewers that are local to you by tagging local terms, venues and colloquialisms, like if I was in Boston I’d hastag something like #plasticfreeboston #wickedsmaht #ilovetombrady etc.

For me, Instagram is about getting more viewers to become aware of the pollution problem, and then hopefully leading them to my webpage where the content is more detailed. Again, I don’t profit off this or make money on ads.

ZeroWasteCalifornia is not a company or store. It’s just me. I’m not a group, even though I say “we” in some posts. Maybe to sound cool. My name is Madi, I live in California, and I do not make a dime off this page.

How to get noticed

In terms Instagram, the platform is destined to “snowball” when images get a lot of likes quickly, that is why knowing your audience, tagging, hashtagging and posting during key hours can be helpful to reach a wider group.

Be Genuine.

It was a personal choice not to accept money to promote companies. Companies aren’t “bad,” just because they want to sell a product or profit, and if your page is about promoting awareness to sustainable products or shops, I love it! I’ll even follow you!
But I wanted ZWC to be a community for anyone who wanted to mane a difference to be a part of, and even contribute to. I felt that if I started posting about new companies while pocketing off every click, I would lose my ingtegrity. And that’s really all I have. I’ve still written about stores I think are doing a good job, but that’s because I genuinely feel that way and did not get any payment for sharing their message.
Also, I do my best to source my references and to be pretty straight forward with information. It’s hard to fit in citations on Instagram, but I do try to source as much as I can online. The more we all access the information, the better.

I try to be supportive of anyone trying to make a genuine difference. I even work on personal zero waste plans for viewers and find out-of-staters references local them to help them get going. But I can be a little sassy with businesses or individuals I think are being environmental assholes. And that’s me being genuine. That’s who I am. And I’d rather have 1,000 companies hate me and live in on a clean, healthy planet than sugar coat my feelings and watch people and animals suffer from the effects of climate change.

You’re going to mess up, that’s okay!

Guess what? I typo, a lot. And that’s usually because when I get inspired I only have my phone to write on Instagram which is a great way to mess up your text. I am also pretty excited when I write, so it can be very stream of consciousness at times. But I have to tell myself to slow down, proofread, and proofread again. Because, yeah, it makes me feel like I doodoo brain when I see that I tagged #ZeroWasteCalifronia on a picture I already posted .

Oh yeah, I’ve been wrong sometimes, too. I’m human. I just own it, correct it, or if I can’t, I delete it, because misinformation is toxic. But then I move on

Trolls

Don’t let someone’s negative or even hateful comments bring you down. That’s the price you pay for being online. Just know that there are other groups, like me, that will always have your back.

What should you post?

That’s up to you. Here’s a hard truth: original posts that I work wicked hard on do fractionally as well as the more mainstream comic and meme posts. That can be a tough pill to swallow. But that shouldn’t stop you! If you view insights, those posts usually have more saves than the rest, which means they’re still reaching people, and that’s The whole point.

And again, if a more mainstream post motivates a new person to go to my website and read more, that’s awesome.

Hashtagging

Relevant hashtags are important. Do you do beach clean ups? Tag it #beachcleanup. Audiences outside your followers might see it. I also slip in generic hashtags like #beach. I’m usually writing about beaches and I want beachgoers to see my post, especially the ones that still bring single use plastic on their trips.

Tags

Tagging other similarly-minded groups, or even companies your writing about, can also help spread awareness. Like when I write about water bottles, I might hashtag Dasani. If I’m writing about straw pollution, I might hashtag Starbucks, etc.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Try to credit the original artist or account whenever possible. That’s just good manners. It’s also nice credit the person you’re reposting it from.

If don’t know the origin, try to request the source from commenters by writing something like: “Photo Source: DM for credit!”

When to Post

You might want to Google what time environment/zero wastes are most popular at and post then. It was weird, but it made a big different. For California, it was between 11pm-1am for Instagram and weekdays 9am-11am for my website. I have my theories.

Post Daily

Don’t just post anything. Try to post something of quality every day. This will keep your viewers interested and help you grow.

Good luck everyone!

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