In honor of Earth Day, the team at Blue Fountain Media decided to dive in and focus on four main global initiatives. These environmental issues - water, education, landfill waste, and food shortage - each have an approximate monetary value attached to solving them. Although at first the value seems hefty, when broken down and compared to everyday activities, spend, or situations, the price suddenly seems a lot more comprehendible. There are many topics we could compare these issues to, however we decided to dive into an industry we know best, media usage and spend.

What if Social Media Communities Solved The World Water Issue?

According to the World Health Organization, providing everyone access to improved water and sanitation services would cost around $22.6 billion per year. Unfortunately today, an estimated 1.1 billion people go without access to improved water sources, and an approximate 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. Now, $22.6 billion is not pocket change for most of us, but it is pocket change (literally) if every member of social media collectively contributed. Here are just a few ways we could generate enough money to provide every person on Earth with access to water and sanitation services:
  • If every Facebook user donated just $0.38 center per day.
  • If every tweet that was sent in 2015 cost $0.12.
  • If we were to pay $7 per impression on Instagram.

What Do we Spend More On, Litter Clean Up or Digital Ad Spend?

Litter and littering behavior remains a persistent and costly problem. Not only does litter have devastating environmental impacts, but the cleanup cost in the U.S. alone is more than an estimated $11.5 billion each year. This cost seems large; however, did you know that the amount spent on display advertising is 23.5 times that? Interestingly, Amazon spent one third of what all businesses in the United States spend on litter cleanup on digital marketing alone. Additionally, social media ad spend is approximately 10 times greater than when the U.S. states, cities, and counties together spend on litter abatement.

Providing the World with an Education, One Device at a Time

According to the Center for Universal Education, an estimated $54 billion in total is necessary to provide a basic education in all low-income and lower-middle-income countries. This by far is the largest number yet mentioned throughout these issues we're exploring, and it is currently yet to be met by world spend. In 2010, a total of $28 billion was spent on providing basic education. However, if every tablet owner in the world donated $54, just 13% of the average cost of a tablet, enough money would be generated to provide a basic education in all low-income and lower-middle-income countries. Even potentially more attainable, it would take every smartphone owner in the world donating $25, just 4% of the average cost of a smart phone.

Let's Chat About World Hunger

Last, and certainly not least, we dove into the issue of world hunger. According to the United Nations, it would cost $30 billion per year to solve the global issue. We chose to compare this to the exploding industry of messaging apps. With the number of mobile phone messaging apps, the amount of users are set to double in the next five years. Therefore, the forecast value of this industry is set to skyrocket. By 2020 the predicted revenue from messaging apps Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, WhatsApp, and Messenger is 67% of the total estimate cost to solve world hunger. So what if we broke it down based on the app itself? Enough money would be generated to solve world hunger if every user on the messaging app:
  • Line donated $10.50 per month.
  • WeChat donated $4.20 per month.
  • Messenger donated $3.50 per month.
  • WhatsApp donated $3.10 per month.
BFM - Earth Day Infographic
While solving these issues seems like a lot of money at first glance, it certainly isn't impossible. If someone were to tell you ten years ago that advertisers would spend 25.3 times more advertising on social media, than all U.S. businesses spend on litter clean up, you might have called them crazy. Earth Day is about taking the time to take action, and while some of the above ideas were solely to highlight the perspective of looking at a problem, there are other ways you can contribute this Earth Day! Things as simple as walking to work, saying no to the plastic bag at the grocery store, or paying your bills online. It's the little things that make a big difference.
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