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TikTok’s ‘Imperfect’ Environmentalists Are Showing Us That It’s OK To Start Somewhere

Never before has the climate crisis been as stark as it is in 2022. The image of the 2019/2020 black summer bushfires is still fresh in the Australian psyche and in more recent months, floods have decimated the East Coast
In unsurprising news, 82% of Australians aged 18 to 25 are worried about climate change, according to a report by the Lancet Planetary Health. There’s even a term to encapsulate our fears: eco-anxiety
Eco – or climate–anxiety is described as the psychological impact brought on by the existential distress of the planet. This can range from concerns over bringing children into the world and travelling, to feeling guilty over our everyday food and fashion choices.
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It’s a very real reaction to the environmental breakdown that we’re witnessing play out in front of us. 
Over on TikTok, this eco-anxiety is manifesting in one of two ways. Climate doomism and climate hope. 

Climate doomism 

Climate doomers are those who believe that fighting against climate change (and its subsequent societal breakdowns) is futile. They believe that we’re past the point of no return and nihilistically spread this message online
One video by user @hermes.the.cynic explains that the “canoe tipping theory” is how climate change works and that when our metaphorical canoe “tips”, half of the world’s population will die in a year. It’s enough to make anyone’s chest tighten.
Alaina Wood, a sustainability scientist, refutes this theory (and many others) on her page and calls it out for what it is: Climate doomism. 
Thankfully, climate scientists like Wood are stitching these videos in order to give people the facts that yes, things are dire. But the fight isn't over yet.

The new wave of 'imperfect' environmentalists

As well as sustainability experts debunking doomers on TikTok, there are also accounts by everyday people who are documenting their "imperfect" sustainability habits. One of them is Kaylah Ducane.
From how to reduce your food waste to advice on looking after your reusable item, Ducane's account, is a goldmine of sustainable tricks and tips.
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"One day I was on my [Instagram] stories and realised how little my community and myself knew about what can and cannot be recycled," Ducane tells Refinery29 Australia.
"I went down a long rabbit hole and saw the lack of education and confusion surrounding environmental matters."
Now, her TikTok account has over 325K followers and is showing people that you don't have to be the pinnacle of sustainable perfection to make a difference.
"It’s not all or nothing. You don’t have to be zero waste and use zero plastics but instead, you start small and do the best you can [with] the situation you’re in."
This rhetoric is also important when you look at the sustainability barriers that low-income earners and people with disabilities face.

Perfection paralysis

Megan Mcsherry, the founder of Acteevism, is another TikTokker using the platform to highlight small steps that people can take towards helping the environment.
McSherry told Refinery29, “The term ‘perfection paralysis’ is common in the sustainable community."
"But right now, we need everyone to do every little thing they can — pressuring governments and corporations who can make the big changes,” she says. “We don’t need everybody to have a perfectly zero-waste kitchen.”
We know we still have a fight on our hands, but all hope isn’t lost: More people are now employed in clean energy than in fossil fuels, and China — the world’s biggest carbon polluter — has recorded an 8% reduction in emissions in 2022's second quarter. Large brands such as the L’Oréal Group have committed to achieve carbon neutrality in all of its sites by 2025, through using 100% renewable energy and improving its efficiency.
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While climate doomers on TikTok will try to convince you that we’re all, well... doomed, the “imperfect” environmentalists provide hope by reminding us that the small changes matter. We choose hope.
We choose hope.
To champion climate-saving initiatives, in partnership with L'Oréal Australia, we’re giving away $10k to a small business focused on helping the planet. Enter here.
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