by Natasha Parker, Head of Consumerism and Wellbeing, Global Action Plan
Global Action Plan has launched the first strand of our new anti-consumerism campaign, calling out the pressure which social advertising puts on young people’s wellbeing and the future of the planet.
The pressure on young people to spend is relentless. A continuous stream of social media advertising, targeting us from the moment we wake up, is feeding a culture of hyper-consumerism. Every third or fourth post on Instagram is an advert, encouraging us to buy, buy, buy and it can be hard for us to resist. A survey we recently commissioned revealed the jaw-dropping statistic that UK teenagers own 58 million trainers, of which a third were unworn in the last 3 months.
Global Action Plan is an environmental behaviour change charity which works to make the connection between what is good for us and what is good for the planet. We know that young people are concerned about climate change. They are also most susceptible to the harmful impacts of a consumerist culture. Challenging the forces of consumerism will address the harm caused to our planet, and the wellbeing of our young people.
Advertising on social media uses persuasive techniques designed to tap into young people's insecurities and desires to encourage them to buy more than they need. These methods can cause harm by encouraging young people to excessively focus on how they look, how popular they are and what they own. Decades of research now show that focussing on these aspects of themselves has been linked with higher rates of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, loneliness, poorer relationships, lower self-esteem and lower educational attainment.
Based on academic research, we’ve created guides for parents and teenagers which offer ways they can build greater resilience to these harmful effects. Working with our pro-bono creative partners Do The Green Thing and a series of supportive influencers, we have created an Instagram campaign encouraging young people to call out the volume of social media advertising with the dismissive #Idontbuyit. With thousands engaging in the early days of this campaign, it’s clear this message is resonating with young people.
We're doing groundbreaking work in the wellbeing and consumerism space, working closely with academics and experts. If you would like to help us connect what's good for us with what's good for the planet, then get in touch at: [email protected]