Words by Amy Packham
18 creators. 18 different backgrounds. 1 goal: to save the planet.
Let’s be honest, your thoughts about TikTok are most likely to be about the collective hours you’ve wasted, rather than about how you could potentially use it to change the world.
But Sabrina Pare, 29, a founding member of EcoTok, wants to prove otherwise.
Cast your minds back to March 2020, when Covid took hold. With a lot of free time, Sabrina, from Detroit, started to get into sustainable living, sharing her finds on TikTok. “I made videos on sustainable swaps, living more sustainably, and people seemed to like them,” she tells us. “A couple went viral, so I continued, and really enjoyed making them.”
There were only a handful of environmentalists on TikTok at the time, says Sabrina, and they all knew each other, forming a group chat.
In June of the same year, the group – Abbie Richards, Alaina Wood, Alex Silva, and Sabrina Pare – came up with the idea of starting a group page on TikTok The name? EcoTok.
EcoTok is a collective of environmental educators and activists who use TikTok as a platform for good. They see climate change for what it is, a crisis, and they hope to empower younger generations to do something about it by teaching them about science, activism, and ways to make changes in their life.
At the time, there were 10 members. Now, there’s 18. Among them, you’ll find scientists, students, activists, environmental educators, and civil servants.
The group has gained traction on the platform, garnering nearly 120,000 followers and having more than two million likes on their videos. They range from anecdotal stories, responses to the news, life hacks to live better, the science behind the climate, and shine a light on the optimism we can hope for.
“In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of climate doom and people putting out negative, fear-driven messages,” says Sabrina, speaking about the need for EcoTok. “We are passionate about being more positive, spreading climate optimism.
“We tell people there is still hope and time to combat climate change – and I think that’s why people resonate with us.”
Their mission, she says, is quite simple: to educate and inspire people to take climate action.
More than just a platform to share ways people can take action, EcoTok has created real, in-person friendships.
“We’re all good friends!” says Sabrina, beaming. A lot of us met this summer, at the Hollywood Climate Summit – it was really cool to finally meet in person after two years. We’ve become really close, and we FaceTime each other!”
For the majority of the content creators, EcoTok is a passion project. A side hustle they do because they love inspiring the next generation. While some are still students in college, others – like Sabrina – do it alongside full-time jobs.
“It’s a lot of work,” she says, “making videos, doing emails, having meetings. It’s another 10 hours a week on top of my full-time role.” Outside of TikTok, Sabrina works as a benefits and wellness specialist.
But there are big plans for EcoTok. They currently have an executive board of four members, and are working on transforming it into a nonprofit. The extra workload is worth it, says Sabrina.
“Being a part of this, it’s really boosted my mood around the planet,” she says. “A lot of our members come from a science background, and I find it so helpful to get information from them. It’s a super helpful support group, and I’m so focused on being climate positive.”
Sabrina’s advice for those suffering from climate anxiety – something increasing numbers of Gen-Zers are feeling – is to follow more positive accounts. “Don’t get stuck doom scrolling,” she says, “seek out more positive information instead.
“Also, getting involved in your community and seeing how you can support it can really help. There are so many great organisations out there putting in the work that you can join.
“We all have what it takes to make real change.”