Not many people appreciate huge billboards blocking out landscapes and pushing companies’ products on such a large scale. Some companies are using innovative methods to change this perception of billboard advertising and clean the environment for their communities. This blend of environmentalism and economics allows companies to sell their brand while cleaning the air and water in their cities. These three types of billboards are doing just that:
1. River-Filtering Billboards
The Pasig River in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, has been devastatingly polluted for decades. A Japanese company has plans to clean up the river through the use of floating billboard advertising.
Shokubutsu Hana, a Japanese cosmetics brand, teamed up with the Pasig River Rehabilitation commission, Vetiver Farms and agency TBWA\Santiago Mangada Puno to design an advertisement using a grass called vetiver. Vetiver has the ability to filter water that passes through its system, cleaning pollution out of 2,000 to 8,000 gallons of water per day. It can filter out nitrates, phosphates and heavy metals, all of which are found in the Pasig.
The billboard is planted to spell out “clean river soon,” an encouragement to the community that their river is being cleansed of pollution. This phrase also serves as a reminder to passersby to avoid throwing garbage in the water. With the success of this billboard, there are plans to create more floating advertisements along the river.
2. Water-Purifying Billboards
The fifth-largest city in the Western Hemisphere is Lima, Peru. It is also located in the middle of a coastal desert, and it sees approximately half an inch of precipitation per year, while also averaging 83 percent humidity. Poor families in Lima cannot afford the exorbitant price of water — a basic necessity to survive.
The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) has developed a new billboard that pulls moisture from the atmosphere and converts it into drinkable water — all to advertise for the school. Although it requires electricity to run, the billboard is far easier than the unclean wells that many Lima citizens currently use. It has the capacity to produce 9,450 liters in three months, which is enough to sustain hundreds of families. The idea was the brainchild of advertising agency Mayo DraftFCB, with the hope that the billboard would draw students into engineering at UTEC, while also providing a service to the many people in need.
3. Air-purifying Billboards
In addition to the lack of water, the air quality in the city of Lima, Peru is the poorest in South America. A recent increase in construction has created a toxic atmosphere for many of the city’s residents. The pollutants near these sites cause disease, and possibly even cancer. Again partnering with Mayo DraftFCB, UTEC has developed an air-purifying billboard to alleviate the air pollution caused by growing construction.
The billboard purifies the air as much as 1,200 trees, creating a safe place to breathe within a radius of five city blocks. The billboard dissolves pollutants into water before releasing clean air back into the street. That waste water can then be recycled back into the system, and all of this happens while using only about 2,500 watts of electricity per hour.
UTEC is not the first brand to purify the air with a billboard. Back in Manila, in 2011, Coca-Cola created a billboard that actually contained plants, in partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature. It is made up of 3,600 Fukien tea plants, which combined removed almost 50,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year. The plants grow as the background, forming a silhouetted Coca-Cola bottle. Even the pots the tea plants grow in are recycled from old Coca-Cola bottles. All the plants are watered through trickle irrigation, which drips water down the billboard.
Both billboards provide a healthy environment for citizens who pass through the pollutant-free area.
— Monica Roth