By Shannon Smyth

Social media is arguably one of the most powerful tools that is currently available to us, and its importance is ever-growing.  

The internet grants us the authority to articulate our opinion on something we deem inappropriate, with ‘cancel culture’ becoming the norm. It also allows us the power to manipulate and persuade consumers into making somewhat unnecessary purchases.

With 57.6% of the world’s population using social media for an average of 2.5 hours a day, as reported by Smart Insights; social media content has the ability to reach a global audience if interreacted with enough.

Popular social media platform TikTok has proven this with its ‘For you page’ algorithm; where videos made by random users appear on other users’ timelines without them even following or interacting with them. The more comments, shares and likes they receive – the more they will appear. Allowing content to go viral in a matter of hours, pretty cool right?

In recent years the career of ‘celebrity’ or ‘influencer’ has become much to be desired, with companies selling online courses on how to grow your following and increase interactions. However, it does have its downsides.

The internet is littered with influencers advertising new ‘must have’ products every day and on every platform. This in turn promotes the concept of mass-consumerism to their audiences which has devastating impacts on our environment – it is imperative that we all realise this.

Molly-Mae Hague, PLT Creative Director. Image courtesy of WWD.

In recent months, Molly-Mae Hague (former Love Island contestant), was made creative director of the popular fashion brand Pretty Little Thing after being involved with the brand in previous years and releasing multiple collections together – at just 21.

Whilst this is an impressive achievement for someone so young and influential, it sparked debate around whether the social media star should be promoting ‘fast’ and ‘throwaway’ fashion trends, rather than supporting the idea of reusing and recycling clothing.

According to UK Government statistics, the UK generated 222.2 million tonnes of total waste in 2018, for which England was responsible for 84% of. This poses the question how much is simply sent to landfill? And how can we begin to take accountability for our actions?

Ask yourself before making a purchase, do I really need a new outfit for every occasion, or could I become more sustainable and re-wear the same dress with different accessories?

Take a moment to think to yourself – do you really like the products you’re being persuaded to buy or are you just following the crowd?

With access to more information than ever before thanks to the internet, maybe it is time to start using social media to educate yourself and others on the impacts of fast fashion on the environment.

We’re not saying don’t buy anything, we’re saying, consider items carefully before you buy them.