With COP26 dominating headlines and attention this past month, climate change and all the issues and themes that are associated with it has been a near-constant in people’s conversations, Twitter feeds and Instagram grids. And, of course, it’s all for good, life-or-death measure.
Since 1906, the global average surface temperature has increased by more than 1.6 degrees, rising to around 5 degrees in the Arctic, while global disasters have become ever more frequent. Just this year, blistering heatwaves have turned deadly in Canada and Pakistan and set off wildfires in Greece and Siberia, while severe flooding has ripped through parts of Germany and China.
It’s clear something needs to be done, but not just for a single month every time a news-worthy climate conference rolls around. That’s where the work of the following eco influencers proves invaluable. Not only are they able to connect to and inspire younger generations, the ones who will need to take the mantle, but they do so on a daily basis, influencing change with every tweet, post and video they upload. Here we round up eight of the very best, from sustainable fashion campaigners to photojournalists documenting the climate change battle on the front lines.
A living legend, what Greta Thunberg has managed to do since holding that first climate strike at her school in 2018, has been nothing short of colossal. Game-changing speeches in front of the world’s politerati followed at the UN and World Economic Forum, along with magazine covers and primetime TV interviews, bringing Thunberg, and the climate issues she fights for, into billions of households across the world.
Thunberg is very active on both Twitter and Instagram, regularly turning her precocious wit to calls for arms and information about strikes, protests and demonstrations her followers can get involved with. Above all, Thunberg’s social media presence and her actions in general serve as a reminder of the immortal power of nonviolent action.
Adventurer, stand-up paddleboarder and environmental activist, Lizzie Carr, is one of the most eminent voices on plastic pollution and our over-consumption of the virgin material.
Carr’s main outlets are her down-to-earth Instagram — where you can find her sharing handy tips on everything from zero waste bathroom swaps to sampling water quality in your local area — and her Earthshakers podcast, where she’s interviewed the likes of actor and climate change activist Rainn Wilson, and leading marine biologist Richard Thompson.
Jack and Finn Harries
Activism and storytelling are in the blood of Jack Harries and his twin brother Finn — their grandfather is famed playwright Michael Frayn, while mother Rebecca Frayn is also a filmmaker and environmental activist. The pair approach their storytelling in a thoroughly millennial way though, having started their journeys documenting their gap years on Youtube.
Taking these early lessons on community building (the channel now has nearly 4 million subscribers), they have shifted gears into telling intimate and large-scale stories around climate issues via their Earthrise Studio digital platform, becoming masters at breaking down the complex issues involved while maintaining the arresting digestibility (most videos are between 10 and 20 minutes long) that raised them up.
Activist Rob Greenfield has built his community upon several attention-grabbing stunts designed to show people how a truly zero waste and sustainable life can be lived. These have included a year without showering, where Greenfield would only bathe in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and waterfalls, a summer spent dumpster diving to show the quality of the 165 billion dollars worth of food thrown out each year, and a cycle across America on a bicycle made of bamboo.
His Instagram and Twitter feed are beacons of positivity with a regular stream of short-form videos highlighting heartwarming projects and the journeys of fellow eco-warriors, along with updates from Greenfield on one of his many adventures — with not a single, gas-guzzling private jet in sight.
TikTok has many a viral star but none much more inspiring or mesmeric as college student Arielle Sidney. Tapping neatly into the welcome upcycling zeitgeist, Sidney uses the platform to post videos making all manner of sustainable creations, from haute couture dresses made out of Amazon shipping bags to a paint-splattered ballgown crafted out of curtains sourced from Goodwill.
Not only is it a novel way to reinterpret that which we throw away, but also push the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle message into the minds of the Gen-Z generation.
A constant thorn in the side of high-street greenwashers everywhere, Venetia LaManna is a recovering fast fashion addict turned ardent fair and slow fashion campaigner. While her Instagram feed might look like any other fashion blogger, dig a little deeper and you’ll find LaManna regularly admonishing the fashion industry from the inside with cutting takes on the exploitation of garment workers, the marketing lies within the sustainable fashion space, and brands using celebrity endorsements to hide the multitude of sins underneath.
In sum, LaManna is a one-woman wrecking ball, and a worthy follow across her Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and All The Small Things podcast.
James Whitlow Delano
Tokyo-based reportage photographer James Whitlow Delano is one of the foremost visual voices on Instagram when it comes to spreading the word about the environmental damage made by climate change. In 2015, he founded the Everyday Climate Change Instagram feed, in which photographers document global climate change on all seven continents, a project that has gone on to be exhibited IRL all around the world.
Outside of the ‘gram, Whitlow Delano is a grantee at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, has reported for The New Yorker and National Geographic, and has put together numerous photobooks including a tome dedicated to his work documenting the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and the consequential Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Cookbook author and speaker Anne-Marie Bonneau aka The Zero Waste Chef is a relative encyclopedia of sustainable and zero waste kitchen knowledge. All this know-how is pleasingly presented through her Instagram and on her blog, where you can find all manner of eye-opening tips, from the perils of raking fallen autumn leaves to perfecting a jar of homemade fermented salsa. So, if you’re a regular kitchen recycler looking to take your personal sustainability to the next level, Bonneau is the influencer for you.