What's happening?

How much can we trust Instagram resharing trends?
11 Mar 2022
by Sophie Coombs

If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a post or two claiming to do something good for every repost it receives… but how trustworthy is this content? And can we really save the planet in a few taps?

Digital Account Manager Sophie investigates…

“We’ll plant 1 tree for every pet picture.”

I saw these words on my screen dozens of times in November 2021, when this particular “Add Yours” sticker went viral. 

In theory, every time a user clicked on the interactive sticker and uploaded a photo of their own pet, Instagram account Plant a Tree Co. would plant a tree.

Being the cynic I am, I’m dubious about ‘too good to be true’ eco trends on Instagram that, in my opinion, are mostly greenwashing; could I really help save the planet just by posting a photo of my pet? With the number of photos I take of my animals, I could single-handedly plant a forest…

Not long after the interactive sticker went live, over 4 million people had contributed to the trend

Believe it or not, 4 million trees were not planted and Plant a Tree Co. shared an apology on its Instagram page.

It’s not just Plant a Tree Co.

I promise I’ve not got it in for Plant a Tree Co., it’s just one of the many organisations to have done an eco ‘trend’ on social media.

In the height of lockdown in 2020, I was regularly seeing ‘every reshare of this post does [insert something charitable]’ on people’s stories from various accounts.

The truth is, anyone can make an Instagram account and claim to be doing something charitable for every reshare/follow/comment…it’s fulfilling promises that’s the main trick!

How to be aware of greenwashing trends

Most of us have slipped up online in one way or another, whether that’s innocently sharing a photo of your pet thinking it will plant a tree or something more dangerous like clicking on that questionable link (note: please don’t do this).

The first step to avoiding online slip-ups is being aware. Now that you’ve read this blog, you’re aware that posting a photo of your furry friend probably won’t plant a tree…

Next, take a look at the account you’re engaging with and actioning from. Is it from a recognisable, reputable organisation, or an account you’ve never seen before?

Here are some questions to ask yourself…

Does it look legit? Is the account verified?
How long has it been running? 
Does it have many followers?
Take a look at its website (if it has one), does it look trustworthy?

If the answers to any of these questions leave you feeling uncertain, I’d recommend stepping far away from the ‘Add to Story’ button.

Finally, consider how realistic the promise is. For example, is a viral post promising to plant a tree for every like? If that’s the case, sadly it’s unlikely this will actually happen.

Instagram for good

I’ve spent the past 500-odd words talking about dodgy eco trends on Instagram and how to make sure you don’t fall victim to Instagram pages that are ‘greenwashing’, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all bad…

If you don’t think your reshare will help the planet, or donate to a cause, or do anything like that, then take a step back and think about how else you can use your Instagram presence for good. 

Are you, personally, doing amazing things for charities, communities or the planet regularly? Share about those! It will raise awareness AND motivate other people to do the same.

Raising awareness, in general, is vital for so many causes, and the power social media has in doing this is enormous. Here are some of my favourite accounts that talk about things that matter, that you can reshare from:

Instagram for everyone

Just want to use Instagram to keep up with your friends, your favourite celebs or the latest fashion? Or just want to share a photo of your pet because it was blinkin’ cute? 


Instagram is whatever you want it to be. If you want to keep up with news and important causes on there, do it. Equally, if you want the platform to be your much-needed break from reality, then let it be that too.

After all, where would Instagram be without those cute photos of our pets?