When you speak to somebody who makes natural history films about how and why they entered their industry they will probably say something like they had a passion for conservation or they wanted to help animals that are on the brink of extinction. In essence it was a ‘higher purpose’ that drove them to their work. However, if you then asked them whether they identify as a conservationist, you would receive a much more mixed response, and usually one that is difficult to understand. What is a conservationist? Do you have to be out in the field all of the time? Do you have to ‘practise’ conservation?
I would guess that most of us who blog about the natural world would have similar responses. By writing about conservation or the natural world, are you in essence still a conservationist? By informing people of issues concerning the natural world, are you part of the conservation community? It’s a tough one but I would argue yes, in your own way.
It is a privilege to be nominated in the Green and Eco category of the Blog Awards, alongside some absolutely superb blogs. Between us, we share a common purpose which is to influence the way that people broadly think about and relate to the natural world. For some of us this means highlighting practical conservation efforts, for others nature writing, for others still it means encouraging people to become more self-sufficient or suggest ways of living a more sustainable lifestyle. For me, it’s a mix of all of these, but largely it means raising awareness of the issues we all face, exploring the ways in which I personally interact with the natural world and educating myself, all the time.
It’s tough being an environment, sustainability or farming blogger. Expanding your audience so you are not ‘preaching to the choir’ is perhaps the most significant challenge. Good use of social media is critical here, although again you risk only talking to those who already have an interest in your subject. Blogging is a competitive world but it is also a place where great communities can be forged. I have never met many of my readers face to face and yet I feel I know them well through our interactions on the blog and through social media. The green and eco blogging community is particularly close, although I must admit that there are many bloggers in my sector who I am yet to speak to (please drop me an email/pick up the phone if you are out there!).
By blogging about the issues that matter I think that blogs can play their part in informing people and encouraging changes in attitude. However, it all comes down to audience and engaging your audience. Change can only happen if we come together as a community, and by this I mean the blog community generally, not just ‘green and eco’ bloggers.
I think there is room for greater collaboration when it comes to eco blogging. I’d love to host more guest blogs on my site and write posts for other bloggers out there, especially bloggers who might not necessarily identify as a ‘green and eco’ or ‘farming’ writer but wanted to engage with the issues. For example, I’ve always thought that as a ‘green, eco and farming’ blogger I’ve had a natural affinity with food bloggers out there – and yet we seem to move in different circles. This need not be the case! Let’s work together.
Can blogging save the world? Well, perhaps not by itself, but we have a duty to be responsible in our writing and work to do what we can. In essence it’s not always what you blog about but what you then translate into your everyday life. Whether it’s cutting plastic from your life, reducing the food miles of your weekly shop, taking part in a practical conservation work party or planting a tree, in essence it’s the small actions that matter. If all bloggers could ask their readers to cut plastic from their life, and this call was taken up, think of the influence we could have together.
Ben is an environmental and agricultural writer, rural commentator and young farmer from north Essex. His blog can be found at www.thinkingcountry.com . He looks for consensus in the countryside and works to raise awareness of conservation and farming issues. He is a regular contributor to Farmland Magazine and Countrysquire Magazine and writes for several other farming and environmental publications.