Zero Waste Lifestyles on Instagram: Portrayals and Practices

Beninger, Caroline
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University of Guelph

In recent years, sustainable lifestyles like Zero Waste have become increasingly visible on social media and have popularized both the role of one’s own footprint and the potential of individual action in addressing environmental issues. In this thesis, I explore how Zero Waste content creators and their followers perceive and practice Zero Waste lifestyles and identify the barriers they face to adopting them. I do this by interviewing Zero Waste content creators and analyzing their Instagram content, as well as by surveying their audiences. I conclude that while many feel sustainable ways of living are important, few are confident about how to practice them or if they have sufficient impact to address modern environmental and social crises. Finally, I posit that while Zero Waste on Instagram is not clicktivism, it can be performative, and that while it does challenge predominant systems like capitalism, it does not qualify as glitch politics, as it is not a means of action accessible to all.

Zero Waste lifestyles, Instagram, Social Media, Sustainable lifestyles, Clicktivism, Glitch Politics