Deinfluencing our way to climate solutions?

A new trend has overtaken the influencer economy. Coined “deinfluencing”, the practice includes influencers listing (usually viral) products that they don’t believe are worth the hype. New fancy lip gloss? Don’t need it. That very convenient, but probably very plastic kitchen gadget? Bye.

It sounds inspirational. A whole movement around reducing consumption and most of it in response to inflation/recession pressures— though it is not without its contradictions and paradoxes.

But the thought came to mind, could we deinfluence our way to a clean energy future?

The idea is simple, eco-influencers are present on most social apps and already have a persistent pitch to reduce one’s carbon footprint and create a greener individual existence. Often this includes life hacks of how to reuse items, or products that might change the way we interact with the planet (the Mill composter comes to mind).

In this vein, a eco-deinfluencer would tout things like not using fossil fuel powered devices. Not investing in infrastructure that increases reliance on carbon-based fuels. And likely not mining or otherwise engaging in extractive resource development.

And herein lies the issues of how deinfluencing will not drive our clean energy revolution. The issue with putting a full-stop call is that it is not attainable for many. An example— the author of this post lives in a suburb outside a major city. Assuming they work in said city, but would like to cut their emission footprint, it makes sense that they would likely use public transit to get to work. The rub? There is no functional public transit. It’s cost prohibitive for them to live closer to the city. And they aren’t going to just give up their career.

Now multiply this out to a myriad of scenarios: people can’t afford a new EV, permitting issues reduce the amount of materials we are able to use to produce clean tech, there’s not robust public transit infrastructure in many US cities (with some notable exceptions—DC, NY, Chicago, etc), new emission free tech just isn’t there yet (thinking: hydrogen-powered planes, etc), and so many more.

So while we might be able to deinfluence people to take one less carbon-intensive vacation each year, we are not at the precipice of being able to deinfluence our way to a clean energy future.

Instead, we should spend the time attempting to influence our leaders, both elected officials and business leaders. Call. Write letters. Show up. Let people know what you want. Go to your city council meeting and emphasize how impactful it would be if you had a robust (electric?) bus system. Write your congress person and express the importance of having robust, responsible domestic production of rare earths. Influence up.

And while you’re at it, no, you don’t need that Dior lipstick.


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