Eco-dread creators are sparking joy through nature

What can sustainable brands learn from this joyful activism?

Ah TikTok, the endless scroll of sludge, cringe and Pedro Pascal daddy edits… or is that just me? But in a corner of the platform there’s a growing community of creators using their platforms to spark joy for nature. And this joy might be just what we need, as a wave of climate fatigue threatens to push the fight for biodiversity into freeze…

Despite their love for the planet, Gen Z are disconnected from nature

You don’t need me to tell you that Gen Z cares about sustainability. Or that they care more about protecting the planet than older generations. Climate change is their number 1 concern, ahead of economic opportunities, and gender equality, and no wonder… There’s no jobs on a dead planet.

But despite this huge love for the planet, this is a generation more disconnected from nature than any before. With surging populations, and a continuing shift towards city environments, young people have less and less opportunity to feel connected to the natural world. One in four young people actually have no natural spaces within 10 miles of their home. 

Disconnection and fatigue are a bad soup of freezing inactivity

So what? I hear you say, scathingly. If there’s a drive to prevent climate change among younger people, why does it matter how much people connect with nature?

But connection is essential to the fight for climate change, to know what we’re fighting to save. The huge scale fires, droughts and heatwaves currently surging through the world give an existential fear for the future that’s to come. Just take the pictures of New York recently — this is the image of the future people hold in their minds. Without a positive relationship with nature, this fear is pushing a lot of people into ‘freeze’ mode around climate — something people are calling eco-paralysis.

Creators are tackling eco-paralysis with radical joy

But in the face of eco-dread, a new rise of creators are using their platforms to spark joy through nature. With a whole host of urban flats, and small garden environments, this is nature accessibility at its finest — accommodating the urban environments people actually live in. And with classic creator creativity at its heart, people are bringing old knowledge (like propagation, flower pressing, and foraging) to the modern age. 

The role of joy is essential here, with lots of people feeling overwhelmed by worry, the sense that there are solutions that are positive can help push people into action. These creators are helping build communities of people, united behind their love for nature, and start conversations about how we can engage with the world in a less exploitative way. They’re giving people solutions: ways they can help environments thrive around them, and find a deeper connection to our planet. 

What can sustainable brands learn from this joyful activism?

Move from loss mentality to gain mentality

So not technically ‘nature’, and balancing pens on a duck’s bill is obviously silly silly. But this is a prime example of centring positivity, over negativity. Using joy is a great way to open up a conversation towards a more serious topic, show people what can be gained first — rather than what will be lost.


He’s a duck of many talents 🦆✨

♬ original sound – Pablo and his friends

Education takes many forms

Okay, this one is definitely for the millennials — propagation x Papa Roach — but an unexpected mixture. This is a great example of bringing education into the creator-era, into highly consumable, unexpected content. Find creative ways to educate your audience, and prioritise the unexpected and surprising to be remembered.


This one goes out to all my hardcore green thumbs. All the thanks possible to Liz for letting me borrow her greenhouse, Eric for the shredding in the background, and my wife for cheering me on while I yell in our friend’s garden. Vocals by yours truly. #propagation #noseedlings #plantresort

♬ Plant Resort –

Joy activism is still activism

I’m obsessed with Bugkiss — this guy’s cut out a dolls mouth, attached it to a spring, and uses it to kiss different bugs. But in doing so he’s helping people find joy in what they can uncover in their garden. Taking a childlike view of nature, of what can be discovered and uncovered — and obviously breaking down the barriers between people and bugs. Take a creator mindset, and find unexpected, surprising ways to talk about your purpose.


In this episode of Bugkiss, I smooch some creatures of the night 🌛 #bugs #insects #toad #weird #asmr

♬ original sound – Legboot

Ultimately we could all use some positivity, and creators are helping people find a relationship with nature their way, and in doing so are bringing joy and action back to those feeling paralysed by eco-dread.

Featured image: Lisa Fotios / Pexels

Kate Knowles, Freelance Strategist

Kate Knowles is a freelance strategist and former senior strategist at Weirdo. She has over six years experience working in strategy, with extensive experience planning campaigns for FTSE100 brands and disruptive startups alike. Passionate about inclusion and allyship, she participates in volunteering and mentorship.

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