WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT…ONLINE INFLUENCERS
These are the people you might be following on social media, who through their huge followings hold influence over the things we buy, the TV programmes we watch, what we eat, and more.
Online influencers have clout. They have power.
It's a bit like the Great British Bake Off featuring a certain ingredient, and then suddenly the supermarkets sell out because we all want to have a go ourselves.
If they show off a product they've bought (or more likely been given by retailers) on their social media channels, a proportion of their following may well go and buy this thing too.
There are some 'good' online influencers out there - people like Rob Greenfield who use the followings to highlight important issues like plastic pollution and climate change.
But there are lots more who seem to have no idea that they are in a position that comes with responsibility.
Take fashion vloggers for example, many of whom have followings in the millions, who take to the airwaves with alarming regularity to show off their 'hauls' - their latest purchases of vast quantities of cheap fast fashion.
Watching Fashion's Dirty Secrets on BBC1 recently I was gobsmacked and slightly cynical trying to believe that the fashion vloggers they interviewed claimed to have no idea about the devastating effects of fast fashion on both people and planet.
Are they seriously trying to tell us they had no idea?
That they thought the planet could support pumping out such massive volumes of cheap clothes indefinitely?
Who do they think made these clothes?
What did they think they were made from?
How did they think the fabric was dyed?
This makes me unbelievably f*cking angry.
Ignorant at best and blatantly, shamefully irresponsible.
It's not all fairy dust and glitter (although, ermmm, microplastics alert).
And it's not rocket science either.
It just needs a moments thought to work out that to make clothes the raw materials all need to be grown and harvested and processed. They need to be dyed, and sewn, and shipped over here.
That people are involved in this process every step of the way, and that the planets resources are what makes those clothes.
Deserts are created, rivers are dead, children miss out on an education and a childhood. People die.
So we can have an endless cycle of cheap clothes to wear once and then discard.
If you're going to promote something, and 'influence' people to buy the same crap as you, at least have the good grace to be educated about it, and to know the true cost of what you're promoting.