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How do we know if we are causing harm or good?
I work on a net good model. We’re all causing harm simply by being here, even just being on this live. Some of it is unavoidable but if we minimise harm everywhere we can, that’s all we can do I think. We can’t all do everything but if we all do everything we can, that’s what makes the difference.
So for me we know by being honest with us about if we’re doing our best. If we discover a new way to save the planet, don’t feel bad about not having been doing it the whole time, implement it once you know. That’s all we can do.
You are a #TackleTheCrisis ambassador – can you tell us more about this and how we use social media to create positive change?
Tackle The Crisis aims to spread good climate news to reduce climate anxiety, because there is a lot of good stuff happening and it often doesn’t make the news or get talked about on social media.
I think it says a lot that “doomscrolling” became one of Merriam-Webster’s words to watch last year – there’s so much bad news about everything online and it’s causing so much anxiety in people, I definitely suffer with climate anxiety myself and having to find good news to share each week as an ambassador helps to counter that.
Social media makes it so easy to spread information, to get the word out there, to organise things and to find other people who want to create positive change and are using social media for good too. It’s been amazing for grassroots movements of all kinds.
Sharing information is so powerful, in a non-judgmental way too, just bringing people’s attention to things they might not have realised. Whether that’s the very serious effects of climate change happening right now, predominantly in the Global South, or easy, eco-friendly switches people can make in their bathrooms. I think it can help people to engage with these issues without feeling defensive, which can happen with one to one chats sometimes, people can feel you’re saying “you’re bad, you need to change” but if you just put the info out there they can digest it in their own time and be more open to it.
Another thing is sharing eco friendly businesses and leaving them reviews. Recommendations like that and just getting them seen by new people is so important if we want to see businesses that care about the environment grow. Sharing those businesses combines the attention economy and the economy economy! Vote with your attention and your money!
How do we track our digital carbon footprint?
It’s something that’s so difficult to track but our use of digital technologies now causes more CO2 emissions and has a bigger impact on global warming than the entire aviation industry! Absolutely everything we do online creates emissions so that’s searching for something, sending emails, posting to social media, doomscrolling! Streaming is the biggest contributor to it, especially with the super duper HD a lot of media is in now. Cloud storage is another thing, and cryptocurrency and NFTs, which I’m so frustrated with.
One of the main things we can do is delete stuff – like digital minimalism! Do you need those 13 selfies of which you only posted 1? Delete them. Get rid of all the stuff you’ve got backed up on the cloud that you don’t actually need, the stuff you’ve forgotten is there. Keep the really meaningful stuff, but bin the rest. And check the eco-credentials of the cloud storage you use – I was pleasantly surprised to discover Google is one of the most climate friendly cloud storage options. And stream less or in lower quality.
Basically just be aware and, where you can, make changes. I was horrified when I checked the carbon footprint of my own website and that’s when I discovered you!
Do you have a few tips on managing social media and avoiding stress and burnout?
Firstly ignore the people who tell you you “have” to do anything to succeed on social media. It’s nonsense. You don’t have to post a specific amount of days per week, you don’t have to use specific features, you don’t have to be doing video. Consistency is what matters – showing up for your audience on a schedule that’s sustainable for you, and if that means you post once a month but every single month, that’s what you do.
Focus on engagement over anything else – social media is about connecting with others. It’s also a slow burn but that’s a good thing! Building real relationships does take time but they are the people who’ll recommend you and share your stuff and become the real supporters of your business. A small army of those people is so much more powerful than ten thousand “that’s a cute quote, like” people.
Be brutal with your feed – unfollow people, block people, don’t just follow people because it’s polite. I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo-ing your social media. If an account doesn’t bring you joy (or information which you find really valuable), unfollow it. Same with groups, Facebook friends, all of it.
I ran a social media spring clean challenge last week and so many people said how much better they felt logging on just from getting rid of the accounts that made them feel icky.
And it’s not just about accounts posting divisive stuff or news or whatever. I don’t follow many social media managers because those accounts bring up my own insecurities, it kicks off that comparison, it’s not good for me. Notice how different accounts and posts make you feel and ditch the ones that consistently make you feel bad.
You don’t have to follow anybody just because, follow them because you enjoy their content and if you stop enjoying it, unfollow them.
And the obvious one; take some time offline, allow yourself to disconnect. It can help to schedule it in though and be compassionate with yourself – it can be really hard to disconnect, if you find it difficult don’t get judgemental with yourself about that. Think about why it’s hard and why you need, and deserve, that mental break.
What is your top Eco Business tip?
Find a community. It’s been so amazing for me to connect with other business owners who are building doing good into their business not just for moral support but to share resources too. Whether that’s one you find through certain hashtags or free groups, or a membership for sustainable business owners, you need people around you for so many reasons.
If you want to learn more about using social media effectively and ethically, consider joining the Social Media for Humans club.