Social media has become a widespread necessity in many people’s lives. Content creators rely on it for their livelihood, while many others use it for entertainment. Facebook has nearly 3 billion profiles, which goes to show how many people truly use it. Throughout the years, the uses of social media have changed greatly. From what was once only a means of entertainment is now essentially a new search engine. With this growth, social media has a significant impact on the environment. From promoting overconsumption, to electrical use, there any many ways in which social media impacts the environment negatively.
With the rise of TikTok, the proliferation of fast fashion and the constant need to haul new clothing and accessories has become more prominent. Fast fashion is a term used to describe the mass production of cheap, trendy clothing that is designed to be worn for a short period of time before being thrown away. This has been fueled by the popularity of social media, where influencers and celebrities constantly showcase their latest fashion hauls and encourage their followers to buy the same items. As people watch their favorite influencers ‘rave’ about the newest products, they feel pressured to keep up with the trends and buy the same items, creating a never-ending cycle of overconsumption. Often times, these products are used once or twice before being discarded, filling up landfills at a much faster rate. Fast fashion relies on the constant production of new clothing, as trends will change rapidly, which requires vast amounts of resources and generates a significant amount of pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry.
In addition to its environmental impact, social media also contributes to our growing “digital footprint.” Every time we post a photo or leave a comment, we generate data that is stored on servers, which requires a significant amount of energy to power and maintain. The increasing amount of data being generated by social media has led to the construction of more and more data centers, which are major consumers of electricity and can have a negative impact on the environment.
In order to combat the negative effects of social media on the environment, it is important for individuals to take responsibility for their own consumption habits and digital footprint. This can involve making a conscious effort to buy fewer items of clothing and choosing higher quality, sustainable options instead of supporting fast fashion brands. It can also mean reducing our use of social media and being mindful of the amount of data we generate.
Overall, while social media has many perks, it is important to recognize the multitude of ways in which it can also harm the environment. Next time you post or share something, remember your digital footprint. When tempted to buy something you’ve seen online, ask yourself, “Do I really need this, or do I only want it because everyone else has it?”