Social Media as Medium for a Message about the Environment: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


Climate change, peak oil, reduce, reuse, recycle, simple living, these terms that I grew up hearing as a kid in West Virginia and Ohio are still relevant, today.

Research out of Great Britain shows, shows that a strategy of less consumption is associated with basic grassroots environmentalism (Whitmarsh, 2009). Researchers in Japan found that when newspapers focused more attention on environmental news, the public paid more attention to environmental initiatives. However, how best to inform the public about the topic of climate change is an area that needs more research.

Independent non-profits such as the legendary Greenpeace, and the new Organizing for Action, use social media and special events to raise public awareness about climate change.

One hypothesis may be that social media is replacing newspapers as the medium whereby most people receive information about the topic of climate change.

Social media seems to provide the kind of immediacy on the topic of climate change that traditional print media does not provide and therefore offers a fast method for getting out the message. The Tweet below from OFA demonstrates the phenomenon of issue-oriented Tweeting:



Sampei, Y., & Aoyagi-Usui, M. (2009). Mass-media coverage, its influence on public awareness of climate-change issues, and implications for Japan’s national campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Global Environmental Change, 19(2), 203-212.

Whitmarsh, L. (2009). Behavioural responses to climate change: Asymmetry of intentions and impacts. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29(1), 13-23.

Should you have additional questions about climate change and social media, contact researcher, Gail Taylor. OFAction Summer Fellow.