VSCO Girls and Enivronmentalism

Ethan Glover
Published: Oct 19, 2019 13:53 Modified: Oct 19, 2019 14:04

VSCO is an image and video editing app that has somehow become connected to a new subculture of pseudo-environmentally conscious white girls looking for approval from minority cultures to find their identity.

At first glance, the young people who have adopted apps like TikTok and VSCO seem harmless. Young people seeking identities and exploring forms of expression. But it seems the radical leftist self-hating white cultures that try to take on the issues of minorities for themselves aren’t going away.

VSCO girls, identified by wearing oversized t-shirts that say, “Save the turtles,” and obsessing over reusable straws, have adopted a language pulled primarily from the black LGBT community. One that unknowingly mocks the sentiment behind the original language.

To be fair, one could argue that terms like “and I oop,” and “sksksk” don’t hold a lot of cultural significance. These terms aren’t much different than any other internet meme. And I oop is just a quote from a funny moment from Jasmine Masters. Sksksk is the same as a;dslkf. A play on character jumbling that matches a phone keyboard layout.

VSCO culture is a meeting of three other cultures. Stan culture (popular among LGBT blacks), climate culture (a form of virtue signaling rather than one of action), and internet culture. Or to put it another way, gossip on the internet + environmental virtue signaling. Because every tribe needs a “cause” to call other people out on.

VSCO girls like to inject environmental talk into their conversations, but it’s not something they care about. They tend to focus on things like not using plastic straws and water bottles. And there’s their motto, “Save the turtles,” which is, of course, a flag to wave, not an actual cause. Like “and I oop” and “sksksk,” it’s just a saying for these girls to identify themselves and relate to other VSCO girls.

Focusing on single products like straws and water bottles, or single animals like turtles distracts from real discussion about real issues. The internet has become too concentrated on making fun of the naivete of VSCO girls to care about the issues they’re pretending to fight against.

There are good ways to act environmentally conscious. Using reusable straws (if you already use straws) is an option. But straws only account for 0.025% of plastic products that flow into the ocean every year.

Doing It Right

Supporting environmentally conscious companies, which have a bigger impact is probably a better option. That doesn’t mean just buying things you wouldn’t normally buy like “hydro flasks” and save the turtle t-shirts. Instead, looking for alternatives to things you already buy or minimizing your consumption.

That being said, companies that market entirely to environmental causes are big red flags. They play on political momentum and impulse buys out of an emotional urge to “act.” When you get caught up in culture like VSCO girls, it’s likely your focus is going to turn towards finding your place within that culture hierarchy more than it’s proposed cause. This means going out and buying the required products and creating the required image to belong to the group. Wasteful spending for the sake of image.

For an example of companies that market to this, do a Google search for ethical company ratings. Websites like Good Shopping Guide, Good On You and Ethical Consumer all rank companies based on the energy of political campaigns. Based on the things that people are searching for, for the sake of getting clicks. All three reduce points if a company sells GMO products or isn’t organically certified. The idea that GMO’s are bad for the environment or health is as backed up as the idea that vaccines cause autism. It’s an ignorant position to take that isn’t based in reality.

Finding trustworthy companies is a little more difficult than doing a Google search and trusting the first “environmentally friendly” advertising campaign that makes you feel good. Most people wouldn’t expect Google to be a good company to support for example. Because they don’t go out of their way to make that “their thing.” But they’ve maintained a good reputation on sustainability through recycling, ethical supply chain management, and investing in effective environmental causes and technology.

For the products you regularly buy, or companies you frequent, it’s best to start researching how they handle these issues. If it’s not looking good, find an alternative and start researching them. The last thing you want to do is depend on a simple search for “environmentally friendly companies.”

After a bit of research, you may find that most companies practice good ethical guidelines. Google, for example, has been carbon neutral since 2007 and has been working on being 100% zero waste. Amazon has signed a pledge to meet the Paris agreement 10 years early. However, my favorite clothing brand, 5.11 Tactical, doesn’t seem to do anything outside of following local laws. Unfortunately, none of their competitors fare any better. (At least they have a good offering of Merino wool products.) Lastly, there’s Soylent. The ultimate sustainable food product. They are always donating to food banks, pantries, shelters, and disaster relief. As well as providing financial support, volunteer hours, policy recommendations, working space and other resources to non-profits. Soylent itself is vegan, nutritionally complete, and uses high-density polyethylene for its packaging.

Acting as an Individual

Beyond finding good companies, there are a few other steps you can take to be a good keeper of the planet. (That isn’t just using metal straws and water bottles.)

As with dieting, being environmentally conscious is much more simple than it’s made out to be. The emotionally-driven environmental campaigns make people want to avoid it entirely. They make it hard to think about it rationally and distract from making simple changes. Something as simple as recycling and not wasting has been turned into a tribal movement. An us vs. them battle between environmentalists and normal balanced people trying to live their lives.

If you just want to do the right thing, it’s best to avoid environmental organizations altogether. To not equate it with naive kids like VSCO girls. Recognize them for the silly distractions that they are and act in the way that you already know you need to act.