When you hear the phrase Instagram Influencer, what do you imagine? For me, it conjures up images of traditional (harmful, exclusionary) beauty standards to the extreme. Thin, white women, with immaculate hair, nails, and makeup posing with expensive goods, and expensive views. Paired with groundbreaking captions like *Thursday vibes* or *Beach vacay*, Instagram influencing can come off as insufferably shallow. Even worse, Instagram Influencers (if they’re good at it) have access to large platforms, anywhere upward of 10k followers, and they use those platforms for what? Vanity? Increased consumerism? Setting unrealistic expectations? Body shaming?
To see all of that power, all of that influence, wasted on reinforcing negative aspects of human society is just obnoxious—which is not to say that I don’t follow my fair share of do-nothing influencers because I certainly do and am a HYPOCRITE, A HYPOCRITE. Thankfully, I’ve stuck around on Instagram long enough to witness the rise of the activist influencer, a development that I am downright giddy about.
Activist influencers utilize their large platforms and their spheres of influence for the betterment of humanity. They spread information, start conversations, encourage social change and public consciousness shifts, and more. More specifically, climate activist influencers get the word out about the climate crisis, and if they’re doing it right, the intersections of social justice, racial justice, economic justice, and climate justice.
Was this an unexpected twist for arguably the most superficial social media application on the market? For sure. But, the rise of the activist influencer is a good thing (I think), because it meets people where they are and communicates huge issues into digestible, informational bites. Most people aren’t browsing scientific journals in their free time, but they are scrolling through Instagram. Climate activist influencers make information—that academia has hoarded and convoluted for decades—wonderfully accessible, AND aesthetically pleasing.
After that marathon of an intro, let’s get to it. Here’s a list of climate activist influencers you need to follow and why.
Corina Newsome works for Georgia Audubon and is a #BlackBirder. Through her day job, social media, and blog, she works to bridge the gap between communities of color and traditionally exclusive, white spaces, like environmental organizations. Her page mixes wildlife, personal, movement for black lives, scientific, and black joy in the outdoors content. She does a phenomenal job utilizing her intersections in knowledge—social media savvy, biology, birding, and intersections in identity—existing as a black woman in a white-dominated field, to create more equitable and accessible spaces for all. Give her a follow!
Isaias Hernandez is an environmental educator, as well as a Mexican-American, queer, vegan, who uses his platform to break down environmental jargon into beautiful, readable, infographics. From defining terms like agroforestry to the eco-goth movement, he keeps us up to date on new ideas and new terms for old ideas. He also centers environmental equity in his approach to education and shares his experience of growing up queer, brown, and working class amid rampant environmental injustice in the San Fernando Valley. Give him a follow!
Stevie is a social/climate activist and entrepreneur living in Brooklyn who documents via Instagram her zero-waste lifestyle (check out our zero waste beginner’s guide here), body positivity, sustainable + thrift fashion finds, outdoor adventures, personal life, and more. She was my introduction to climate influencers and I’m loyal to her brand, which focuses on all aspects of her life + daily experience. If climate influencing reality TV were a thing, she would make a killing.
Kristy Drutman is a Jew-Pina climate activist and multimedia wiz who creates “conscious, culturally relevant content” for her sizable social media following. Her profile is a mix of infographics like The Climate Science Behind Disasters and Of Poverty and Plastic and cute pics of her getting out in nature and sharing her ideas on politics, social issues, and personal experience. Give her a follow!
Leah Thomas is an activist, eco-communicator, and founder of the platform Intersectional Environmentalist (@intersectionalenvironmentalist). Her platform uplifts intersectional environmentalism, focusing on the movement for black lives, and how “environmentalism” has excluded historically oppressed groups. She reminds us that sustainability should sustain all lives, not just a privileged few. Writing is her favored form of reflection and activism. Give her a follow!
There are so many climate activist accounts popping up, it was difficult to choose which ones to highlight. This list is a great place to start if you’re just beginning your Instagram activist deep dive. The popularity and prevalence of climate activist accounts just goes to show that the people care about climate justice and want to know more—through a medium that works for them. Social, climate, conservation, other scientists—take note! The days of your ivory tower sinking are OVER. If you want your work to mean something, it’s time to communicate through mediums that people actually use… even if that happens to be Instagram.