Ecological Vigilance on the Rise: Exploring the Role of Academia, the Streets, and Social Media

by Loredana Filip

Walking a few blocks in Veitsbronn, Germany, I was struck by the sight of three consecutive ads promoting environmental awareness. It made me question whether it was sorcery, coincidence, or conspiracy that led me to encounter these ads, or if it was simply my own confirmation bias at work, given the direction of my research in the field of vigilance studies. However, one thing was clear – signs encouraging ecological thinking seemed to be everywhere I turned.

Photos by Loredana Filip.

But as these ads caught my attention, I couldn’t help but wonder: were they simply capitalizing on the trendiness of being green? Or was it a sign that the collective efforts of ordinary people and intellectuals to promote sustainable living were finally paying off? Perhaps this growing ecological vigilance among consumers signals that there is no one-way street where an “economic totality”1 dictates consumer choices, but rather that consumers are increasingly concerned about their environmental impact.

The growing concern for the environment among consumers can be attributed to the efforts of both ordinary people and intellectuals, who have been advocating for sustainable living. Ecological awareness has emerged in various forms, stemming not only from organized campaigns, but also from personal experiences of witnessing changes in the environment, the academic work of intellectuals, social media, and everyday conversations.

Cover of the First Edition of Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” from 1962. Source: Wikipedia.

As a powerful institution, academia plays a vital role in the discourse surrounding ecological awareness. This also demonstrates that academia is not solely an ivory tower detached from the “streets,” but one that is in constant dialogue with them. Rachel Carson, an American marine biologist and author, undoubtedly played a significant role in the environmental movement with her book Silent Spring. Her work shed light on the harmful effects of pesticides and chemicals on the environment and human health, inspiring a new generation of activists and scholars to take action. Today, many universities and research centers are continuing Carson’s legacy by studying the impact of human activity on the planet and promoting sustainable practices. The Rachel Carson Center at LMU Munich is one such center, bringing together scholars from a variety of disciplines to explore the intersections of environment, society, and culture.

One more platform that can contribute significantly to raising ecological awareness is social media, which has seen a surge in the number of content creators specializing in topics related to sustainability and responsible travel. This trend is evident in the rise of digital nomads, a popular lifestyle that presumably allows people to work remotely while traveling sustainably. From environmentalists to outdoor enthusiasts and adventure photographers, social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube have become a space for individuals to share their stories, educate their followers on eco-friendly travel practices, and raise awareness about environmental issues. For instance, many travel bloggers and influencers have started promoting sustainable tourism by highlighting local, eco-friendly accommodations and activities. In addition, social media campaigns like #TrashTag and #ClimateStrike have mobilized millions of people worldwide to take action on environmental issues.  

“Digital nomad”. Source: Pixabay.

However, it is important to be aware of the potential pitfalls in the pursuit of sustainability. Eco-friendly products are often associated with luxury and exclusivity, making them inaccessible to individuals with lower incomes. Similarly, lifestyles such as digital nomadism have been glamorized to appear eco-friendly, although they may not necessarily be so. To promote sustainability, we should focus on creating a culture of conscious consumption and encourage small, achievable changes in everyday life. Rather than glorifying a specific lifestyle, we must avoid perpetuating mindless consumerism and work towards making sustainable lifestyles accessible to all. The digital divide is also an issue as not everyone has equal access to social media and the internet, which limits their exposure to eco-friendly content. It is important to remain aware of potential pitfalls like greenwashing, where many companies may falsely promote themselves as eco-friendly to attract environmentally conscious customers.2

In conclusion, the rise of eco-friendly products and advertisements is a sign of our increasing ecological vigilance as a society. However, we must not limit sustainability to a choice of high-end products, but find ways to make it accessible to all. I believe that academia has an important role to play in this effort, as having conversations about these issues is essential to create and maintain momentum in a world of crisis ordinariness.3 By bridging the gap between academia and the streets, and by using tools such as social media to connect with a wider audience, we can all contribute to a more sustainable future. Environmental awareness is a complex and multifaceted issue that requires the efforts of everyone – scholars, activists, consumers, and social media users alike. It can start as small as sharing our passion for nature.

As a nature enthusiast, I manage an Instagram account where I post daily updates about different plants, including interesting facts, stories, and their cultural and historical significance.

Screenshot of the Instagram account “plantdiaries365” by Loredana Filip.

Furthermore, I am currently engaged in an additional storytelling project centered on nature writing, wherein I explore the perspectives of non-human entities on story.one. In my short stories, such as “Confessions of a Speckled Rock”, I aim to shed light on the unique experiences and narratives of non-human beings. Through these endeavors, I hope to inspire individuals to develop a heightened awareness of the natural world surrounding them and to appreciate its beauty and complexity.


Cite this article as: Loredana Filip, Ecological Vigilance on the Rise: Exploring the Role of Academia, the Streets, and Social Media, in: Vigilanzkulturen, 06/06/2023, https://vigilanz.hypotheses.org/4155.

  1. Huehls, Mitchell. “Four Theses on Economic Totality.” Oxford UP, vol. 30, no. 4, Winter 2018, pp. 836–847. []
  2. See also https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/greenwashing.asp. []
  3. As I write this, I am also preparing a paper on the role of the intellectual at an upcoming conference in Venice, which has inspired some of the thoughts I had here. []

OpenEdition schlägt Ihnen vor, diesen Beitrag wie folgt zu zitieren:
Blogredaktion (6. Juni 2023). Ecological Vigilance on the Rise: Exploring the Role of Academia, the Streets, and Social Media. Vigilanzkulturen. Abgerufen am 14. Juli 2024 von https://doi.org/10.58079/v7n2


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