Young people are more aware of their responsibilities in protecting the environment and are actively doing something about it. You can often spot them carrying personal tumblers or plastic re-useable cups from coffee shops like Starbucks, doing their part in cutting the tons waste generated yearly by disposable beverage containers. The recent uptake in practicing a "zero-waste" existence is credited to the slower paced life COVID-19 forced upon us. People took the time to learn more about the health of our environment and wanted to do their part. Nowadays, young people in their 20s who are familiar with the digital world, are using social media (SNS) to influence the behavior of other consumers too. According to a recent ‘Plastic Awareness Survey’ conducted by the Ministry of Environment, half of young adults in their 20s and 30s are environmentally sensitive ‘eco-warriors’; people with the practical ability to think about environmental issues and take action directly.
One such plan is the ‘Throw it away for value’ campaign, launched by ‘Starbucks Korea’ earlier this year. It is easy to take part. Customers who purchased drinks in recyclable containers simply needed to remove the product label and rinse it thoroughly before dropping it off in any of the designated collection boxes inside the participation coffee shop. Take a photo of yourself dropping it in the box and post it to Instagram with hashtag '#Throwitawayforvalue' and '#StarbucksSustainability' and earn a reward for your effort. Show your uploaded post to staff when ordering a new iced drink and get it in a free reusable cup. Recently, a growing number of people have begun customizing their reusable cups to reflect their own personality and interests. Korea’s ‘throw it away for value’ recycling campaign collections were delivered to the US eco-friendly outdoor brand NAU who will make eco-friendly lifestyle products with the recycled materials that will be released for sale at Starbucks stores in September.
|▲ Disposable plastic cups and bottled water PET without labels are recreated into RPET, a recycled fabric. (Photo from Starbucks Korea Official Instagram)|
The term ‘Secondsumer’, a combination of the word ‘second’ and the word ‘consumer’ has been coined in South Korea to describe consumers who are most interested in sustainable living, and whose buying habits revolve around giving goods a second life. The trend is quite popular with young adults in their 20s. They realize there is social value to protecting the environment by recycling goods, giving the second-hand market a much-needed boost. The youth of the world are identifying arbitrage opportunities and making extra money by offering up for sale limited edition or discontinued items on the second-hand luxury goods market. This resale trend is a form of investment as well as a way to reflect your own unique sense of style and taste that has really taken off with young adults.
The Dankook Herald (DKH) surveyed Dankookians (students of Dankook University) to see if they used their own SNS to help in the campaign to protect the Earth. We learned that Kim Min-jin, a student in the Dept. of Polymer Engineering is a regular user of Instagram. One day while scrolling through posts she found an account for a vintage market. Through it she was able to discover a new fashion style made up of secondhand clothes. It peaked her curiosity for more and led her to many other vintage market accounts. She eventually fell in love with 'vintage style’ and the chance to wear clothes that she had never seen before.
Kim explained how users can buy products in the vintage market through Instagram. “Vintage markets sell clothing in two main ways. The first is by posting pictures and a description of the clothes for sale on their feed or story for people to see. Most Instagram vintage markets and buyers trade clothes this way. If there are clothes you want to buy, you can send a direct message to the vintage market account or simply comment on the post. The second way to purchase vintage clothing items is through Instagram live broadcasting feeds. Live broadcasts have the advantage of users being able to communicate in real-time with the account hosts. You can ask questions about the goods and find out more about what they have to offer. However, the limitation is that you need to participate during a set time. Despite this limitation, many consumers participate because retailers usually sell clothes on live broadcasts a little cheaper than they would post on their feed.”
Finally, she added her own experiences. “I bought a lot of vintage items last year, such as long skirts, blouses, and brand name hoodies at a low price. I think it is a very meaningful way to consume clothes because you can buy items that you cannot get easily through SNS cheaply while doing your part in protecting the environment.”
|▲ One of the shoes worn by the MZ generation in the Shoe Tech. (Photo from Newsis)|
Social media has been used to conduct environmental awareness campaigns that provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, and attitude required to reduce our environmental impact. The youth of the world are more switched on than ever before about the health of the planet and they are demonstrating a genuine desire to be part of the long-term solution to waste generation. Demonstrating a little more proactive approach to protecting our environment helps make our society a brighter one. Let’s all think of ways we can start being more eco-friendly in everyday life!
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