Her Campus (HC): Why did you start this page?
Ariel Maldonado (AM): I started GoGreenSaveGreen to learn more about the environment because a lot of the environmental accounts that I was following would either just post environmentally inspirational photos like ‘recycle!’ or content that wasn’t that in-depth. Really big pages of organizations that would talk about conservation, but I kind of wanted to learn more about environmentalism in general and not just any one thing. So I kind of just wanted to make a page that I wish I could have followed.
HC: How has the page changed since you started?
AM: As I’ve run the page, it’s definitely evolved a lot. In the beginning, it was like ‘environmental impact of lighters’ and I would include eco-friendly swaps you can do, and where you could get them. Now it’s totally changed, but the page has always been like — what’s the kind of page that I wish I could see, and didn’t feel like I was finding.
HC: What do you think it has turned into now?
AM: I think that it’s turned into kind of like an informational resource, and I hope really it makes people think. That’s the feedback I get, but I’m not getting feedback from 60,000 people, I’m just getting feedback from the ones that are really engaged. Most of them react with ‘I never thought/considered this before’ which is the goal. I want to bring people’s attention to things they didn’t realize were a problem. I don’t always talk about the BIGGEST problem right now, and sometimes I get aggravated because people respond with ‘stop blaming individuals and start putting it on the 100 companies that are responsible for 71% of emissions’, and yes we can hold them accountable, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have conversations about smaller issues too. I hope that’s something my page does. I want to have all of these different conversations because I’m learning that all of the issues really are connected even though when they’re all separate they don’t make sense.
HC: When you go on your account what makes you happy about it?
AM: I love when people tell me that the work I’m doing has directly impacted their life. The whole reason I started was that I felt so isolated and I would talk to my friends and family about climate change and they didn’t care. I would be like ‘Oh my god, the world is burning, and nobody is listening to me’ and they’d react with ‘you’re doing that eco-friendly thing, you’re a walking stereotype’ and I was like ‘no, I mean I know! As an eco-friendly art-school girl, I could see how you box me in like that but this is serious stuff!’ But I knew that thoughts and ideas transcend gender, culture, age and socio-economics, so when people listen to me and tell me like ‘hey this is working,’ or ‘I did this because of you,’ it gets me really excited.
HC: How do you stay motivated?
AM: The interaction is what keeps me motivated. For example, this story is one of my favorites. I had been really pushing composting one week, more than I usually do, and there was a teenager from Georgia that DMed me. He was like ‘I wanna start composting, how do I go about that?’ I responded to him, and I was like, “Hey! You can get worms, this is where I got my worms, you can do this and that.” I sent him some links, showed him my setup and he said something like, ‘ok cool, I’ll message you in a week.’ I didn’t really think much of it because a lot of people say that and never message back. Then a week later, he messaged me and sent me videos of his composting area. I was so happy. I never would’ve guessed that I would have an impact on some teen in Georgia. I love meeting people that turn from followers to friends. That’s what keeps me motivated. If nobody ever paid me any attention, it would just be like shouting into the void, and how long could you consistently do that? It’s the shouts back that motivate you.
HC: Have you faced backlash from your followers when you discussed the intersectionality of climate change/justice and the BLM movement?
AM: Oh my god yes. Any time I talk about climate change and the intersections between race and socioeconomics people get mad. On every level. I have people that tell me like ‘race has nothing to do with it,’ or ‘money has nothing to do with it,’ or ‘I don’t think that it’s necessarily that big of a deal, you’re blowing it out of proportion.’ Many people don’t like how uncomfortable it is to consider that there are people that aren’t doing as well as they are, and they should care about them. That’s a hard thought for people to confront at times. Many people don’t think that there’s a connection between race and the environment, but when you read about the history of how race has impacted where people live, how race has impacted the opportunities they have if you don’t understand those larger pictures, then it’s going to be really difficult for me to explain to why brown and black communities are 5 degrees hotter in the inner city than suburban communities that are mostly white.
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