Alaina Wood (she/her) is a 25-year-old Sustainability Scientist based in the mountains of Tennessee. Alaina conducts science communication work and is the co-founder of EcoTok, a collective of Environmental Creators conducting climate activism on TikTok.
Raquel Martinez (RM): When did you first learn about the climate crisis? What was your immediate reaction?
Alaina Wood (AW): I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know about pollution because I grew up both on the Chesapeake Bay and in the Appalachian Mountains, but I explicitly remember learning about climate change in one of my middle school science classes. I remember feeling shocked and frustrated that more people weren’t doing something about it.
RM: How did you first get involved in climate activism?
AW: I really first started getting involved in the climate movement in high school. I started my school’s environmental club where I helped apply for a grant to purchase water bottle refill stations, and then I became a founding board member of Keep Jonesborough Beautiful, a Keep America Beautiful affiliate. There I helped organize cleanups and educate the community about native landscaping, stormwater management, and recycling.
RM: When did you decide to start using social media as a tool for your advocacy and what led you to that decision?
AW: I have been using social media as a tool for my advocacy since I first joined social media in middle school. At the time, I felt that was the only way I could help, because I wasn’t connected with any environmental groups. Back then, I would share articles on Facebook and fight climate deniers in the comment sections on the local news pages. Now that has evolved into creating my own advocacy content on TikTok, sharing resources on Instagram, and engaging in discourse on Twitter.
RM: What have you found is the most effective way to use social media as an educational tool?
AW: I’ve found that being relatable, approachable, and often funny on social media helps people engage more with educational content. People don’t want to feel like they’re sitting in a lecture, so making content fun yet accurate helps spread the word.
RM: Could you tell us about the work you do outside of the digital space? How have you translated the knowledge you’ve gained in your field into your climate activism?
AW: I am a sustainability scientist who specializes in solid waste and water quality, and I work for an engineering firm doing environmental consulting work. I use the skills and knowledge I’ve gained with my career to help answer technical questions other activists have, understand what are effective ways to get businesses and governments to change, and take action.
RM: What are some steps you recommend individuals take towards adopting a more sustainable lifestyle over time?
AW: My top tips for individuals trying to live a more sustainable life are to educate yourself on what sustainability is, start with the one or two areas in your life to make changes in (so you don’t get overwhelmed), and to never feel guilty about not being able to do more. Living sustainably means living within your means!
I’ve found that being relatable, approachable, and often funny on social media helps people engage more with educational content. People don’t want to feel like they’re sitting in a lecture, so making content fun yet accurate helps spread the word.
RM: Who are some of your favorite youth activists and where can we find them?
AW: There are way too many to choose from! But here are my current top favorite youth activists and where to find them:
- Vanessa Nakate on Instagram and Twitter
- Alex Silva on TikTok and Instagram
- Giiwedin Howard on TikTok and Instagram
RM: What are some tips you could provide young people who are looking to follow a similar path of climate activism in the digital space as you have?
AW: I encourage any and all young people to get involved in climate communication! I recommend doing research into topics before creating content, reaching out to creators like myself to get started, and getting more comfortable being on camera (and hearing your own voice – which still is pretty weird to me!).
RM: How can individuals support your work?
AW: Individuals can support my work by interacting with my content , supporting the causes and petitions I share, and contributing to my Buy Me A Coffee fund!
RM: Thank you for joining us!
All photos courtesy of Alaina Wood.
Answers may have been edited for length.
Want to read more? Check out the ACE Blog!
More Blog Posts
The Climate Emergency is Here.
Since the summer of 2021, we’ve watched elected leaders at every level grapple with the reality of the climate emergency. Communities, businesses, homes and individuals are suffering at the hand of climate inaction and our elected leaders have the ability to change that. It’s time for our elected officials to meet the urgency of the moment and declare climate emergencies!Read More
ACE INTERVIEW: Aryaana Khan on COP26
Aryaana Khan (she/they) is a 20-year-old youth climate organizer located in New York City. She has been a part of the Youth Fundraising Advisory Board (YFAB) and a Senior Fellow at ACE, and is currently a Biologist in the making at the City College of New York. As she prepares to attend COP26 with ACE, Aryaana has shared some thoughts around the conference and the outcomes she is hoping for.Read More
Climate Emergency 101
The consequences of climate change are affecting us everyday. We are now experiencing hotter heat waves, deadlier hurricane seasons, rivers drying up, air pollution destroying our health, and so much more. It’s time to sound the alarm and declare a national climate emergency. We need to raise our voices and let our government officials know that its #NowOrNever.Read More