Can Activism in Art Museums Save the Planet?

POSTED: Jan 4, 2023
This is our take

A German environmental group dumped mashed potatoes over one of Claude Monet's paintings at a Potsdam Museum on Sunday as part of a food-related climate protest.

Nine days after Just Stop Oil poured tomato soup over Monet's Les Meules (Haystacks) at the Museum Barberini, two activists from Letzte Generation infiltrated the National Gallery in London and daubed tomato soup over Van Gogh's Sunflowers before gluing their hands to the wall.

According to the demonstrators, the act served as a warning about the impending climate disaster. In a video of the incident posted by Letzte Generation, one of the activists can be heard saying, "People are starving, people are freezing, people are dying."

The organization said that in an effort to spread its message, it had chosen to use "this Monet as the stage and the public as the audience."

A museum representative said that the artwork was shielded by the glass, and the institution later claimed that it did not seem to have been damaged.

The spokesperson said that police came promptly and that the demonstrators' hands were “relatively easily” removed from the wall.

The group claims it is a member of the final generation that can stop society from imploding and accuses the German government of disobeying all warnings and pushing the nation "to the edge of the abyss."

Just Stop Oil

Will this type of Activism Save Our Planet from its Demise?

This sparked strong emotional reactions from the public, mostly against this kind of activism. People were outraged and let their opinions fly on social media. The main question around the protest itself was meant to ridicule the execution, and it made people scratch their brains wondering how two Gen Z kids would throw canned tomatoes at The Sunflowers, to save the earth.

Others, consider this a publicity stunt and argue that the direction it took was not radical enough to show the importance of highlighting the climate crisis.

For the most moderate audience, this accomplished what it intended to do: disrupt and get talked about.

Well, if we consider the impact a two-person protest on climate change had, we may want to consider the genius of implementing a strategy that creates controversy.

Just Stop Oil’s protest gained 1.7 billion results, according to the keyword viewer on SEMrush, and 49.7 million views. It was the number one trending topic on Twitter for 3 days in a row. And something tells me, we will be seeing more and more activism that focuses on going viral fast, creating the conversation around it to keep headlining; hoping that this will get to more and more people, and that those people will begin to understand how critical it is for us to do something now.

You may not agree with one way or another of doing climate change activism, and that is ok. We are just opening the floor to the conversation that needs to be had around our own contribution to this issue. How are we taking care of our planet?


Technology is an indisputable aspect of our daily lives, from computers and tablets to smartphones and beyond. Unfortunately, our rising usage of electronics is hurting our ecosystem in the form of rare mineral depletion, air and water pollution, high energy consumption, and e-waste dumps.

However, there are alternatives to obtaining the technology we need in a more sustainable manner, the simplest of which is to buy refurbished electronics. Refurbished smartphones, PCs, and other equipment allow us to continue using technology while dramatically reducing its environmental impact.

For Loop Mobile, this is our heart and soul. This is what makes us believe in our business. Our core value lies in the alternatives we can provide to mitigate the amount of e-waste poured into our planet’s soil.

We want to be disruptive. We want people to re-think the way they look at brand-new tech and understand that this expectation we have put upon ourselves to get the best, the newest, the trendiest of things, will never be enough. Earth is already more than enough, and we need to start caring for it now!

Reduces Our Dependence on Essential Minerals and Plastics

Blue and Yellow Elegant Curved Frames and Border Business and Entrepreneurship GoFundMe Story Image by Paola Larrabure

Everyday electronics require resources such as gold, silver, silicon, lithium, and a variety of other metals and rare earth elements, all of which must be mined from the ground. Some of these materials, such as cobalt (used in lithium batteries), are in short supply, with an estimated 40-year supply remaining. Mining for these resources has a significant environmental impact.

Plus, the production of cellphones, computers, and other gadgets requires massive volumes of plastic, which is frequently combined with chemicals that render it only partially recyclable.

Refurbished electronics reuse previously made parts, eliminating the need for additional core minerals and polymers.

Reduces air and water pollution

The mining of core minerals alone causes severe water contamination. The manufacturing process emits a significant amount of pollution into our air and water. Besides, many of the components used to manufacture computers, and other electronics are poisonous, resulting in polluted soil and water when disposed of in landfills.

Refurbished electronics use recycled parts that are manually installed, resulting in far less pollution than manufacturing new ones or disposing of old ones.

Reduces E-Waste

Old electronics are a major source of waste around the world. Today, less than 20% of all e-waste is recycled each year. Unfortunately, the remainder is either burned or disposed of in landfills.

Worse yet? A large portion of this waste is avoidable and is motivated by the concept of obsolescence. This latter is classified into two types: planned and perceived. Planned obsolescence occurs when gadgets cease to function properly after a certain amount of time owing to incompatibility with new updates or wear and tear on components that are not planned to be replaced.

Perceived obsolescence occurs when we replace our devices not because they are broken but because we desire the most recent version. For example, the average individual purchases a new smartphone every two years or so, even if the older devices are fully functionial and the new versions have minor upgrades.

There are two major ways that we can all contribute to reducing the quantity of e-waste that ends up in landfills each year:

  1. Put off replacing your devices for as long as possible. If they are still in good shape or can be repaired, why buy a new one?
  2. Buy refurbished when you need a new device.

Purchasing refurbished electronics helps minimize e-waste by keeping older electronics out of landfills. Even better, when computers and other devices are refurbished, they are restored to match manufacturer requirements and reconditioned to be nearly as good as new, extending the life of outdated devices.

Lowers Your Carbon Footprint

In addition to harming the environment and adding unnecessary garbage to landfills, the production of new devices consumes a significant amount of energy. For instance, it is estimated that the production and distribution of cell phones account for 90% of their overall energy impact. A large amount of energy is consumed just to get a device on the store shelf, from mining core minerals to the manufacturing process to the shipping of components and final items.

Refurbished computers and other electronic gadgets reuse old parts, lowering the energy required to produce new ones. As a result, the carbon footprint of these devices is greatly reduced.

Final Thoughts

No matter where you stand on climate change, the conversation does not seem to be going away anytime soon. The threat seems to be real enough that suits are starting to listen. This is our world, and we owe it to ourselves to protect it by minding our choices – and it starts with how you approach technology.