Now with over 80 million photo uploads per day, Instagram is sure to capture virtually all of humanity’s inanity. At some point, if you’ve seen one sunset, selfie, or Starbucks order, no matter how perfectly shot or filtered, you’ve seen them all. But none of that precludes the fact that Instagram’s unprecedented powers of communication can be used to actually make a difference in this world. It’s not always easy to separate wheat from chaff, but whether saving animals, feeding the hungry, or documenting humanity’s appalling lows and wondrous highs, here are 21 inspiring Instagrams that used their reach to effect real change in 2015.
Furthermore, Oceana works to save today's threatened marine species, like the sea lion pictured above. In recent years, climate change has caused an increase in marine parasites that have ravaged their populations.
This year, photos like the one above (depicting Hannatu Abbas, an 18-year-old Nigerian girl who defied tradition and chose education over forced marriage) have allowed The Malala Fund to reach new heights in the fight for freedom and education.
Since 2008, the organization has built 266 much-needed schools in developing nations. And true to their word, they've trained local populations to keep the schools self-sustaining and keep children like the girl above (and the countless others that populate the organization's Instagram feed) educated.
Pencils of Promise
The image above shows the results of a survey of high school students about when rape is acceptable. While the survey was taken in 1978, and we can hope that attitudes have changed significantly since then, the results are nevertheless absolutely chilling.
Taken from a series entitled "Forgotten People," the photo above shows a man from Mobile, Alabama who was left homeless after Hurricane Katrina.
Ruddy Roye, "Humanist/Activist."
Above is a photo taken from the International Space Station by astronaut Scott Kelly. The gilded ribbon on the far left is the Nile River.
Moreover, alongside this, you'll also find inspiring images of strength, resilience, and beauty.
Black Lives Matter
Above, refugees frantically board a boat in search of a better life. This year, according to the UN, nearly 1 million refugees from the Middle East fled to Europe.
Human Rights Watch
This summer, Instagram partnered with Miley Cyrus to launch #InstaPride, a campaign that shared stories of both struggle and resilience from transgendered people around the world (above is the campaign's first photo).
Markov was awarded a $10,000 grant from Getty Images and Instagram for his work. Two other photographers highlighting underrepresented communities were also awarded grants in what was a historic partnership between two giants of the world of photography, one old and one young.
Their very first photo (above) gave the world a touching reminder that brief tender moments can still bring hope to areas in crisis--in this case, Ebola-ravaged Sierra Leone. Fortunately, however, 2015 was an important, positive year in the fight against Ebola, with epidemics thwarted and promising new treatments and vaccines on the way.
The New York Times
Above is a photo of Zawadi Mrisho Iddi, a 24-year-old woman who ran for Zanzibar's House of Representatives this year. Over 1,000 women ran for public office in Zanzibar's parent country of Tanzania in 2015.
Beyond Clinton's droll caption, politicians across the board have simply had to become more self-aware and down-to-earth (or at least appear to be) with the advent of social media, particularly Instagram. Now, nearly every major candidate in the upcoming presidential election (not just Donald Trump) has an Instagram account--and the way politicians interact with the public has changed irrevocably.
Celebrated photographer David Doubilet, himself an environmentalist and conservationist, contributed many of the incredible images for Fiat Lux (including the one above).
Above is Aya, a young Iraqi woman who was denied entry by the U.S. HONY is currently using Instagram to promote a petition to President Obama that would allow Aya haven in America.
Humans of New York
The Food Trust has long been a leader in advocating for affordable, nutritious food for everyone. Through their work with schools, stores, governments, and more, they've contributed to a, sadly, rare drop in childhood obesity rates in their native Philadelphia.
The Food Trust
"Preacher John" (above), a homeless man living in Seattle, frequently receives help from Facing Homelessness.
Above, Katharina Hesse shows us the "apocalyptic" view of the unbelievably polluted air in Beijing, which reached new heights of danger in 2015.
Everyday Climate Change
charity: water is going around the world to provide clean water to people in need, and sharing their smiles--and raising awareness--on Instagram along the way.
Above, penguins plunge into icy Antarctic waters. Scientists estimate that, over the past 50 years, climate change has cut the penguin population in half.
This year, Best Friends, with the help of photos of rescued animals (like the one above), spread their message of compassion to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
Best Friends Animal Society
For more of the best this year had to offer, check out 2015's most memorable quotes and 21 unbelievable pieces of good news you may have missed in 2015. Then, see more Instagram highlights with these crazy narco photos from Mexico's most feared cartels and these lovely shots that will make you fall in love with winter.