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Are Billboards Bad for the Environment?

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Are Billboards Bad for the Environment?

15 November 2021

Madrid-based design studio Point of Reference is spreading the word on how billboard production is having a negative effect on the environment. 

Jeffrey Ludlow, art director at Point of Reference, is calling for more digital billboard use within OOH (Outside Of Home) advertising. Ludlow and his team at Point of Reference have brought attention to how OOH signs, “although sometimes very thin, are a large contributor to pollution and environmental issues we are facing,” the director explains.

Ludlow has expressed the need for designers to focus on sustainability when designing. The campaign is accompanied by an ominous film motion directed by Lucía Venturini, and tells us that an advert posted for one month will take 400 years to decompose! The question the campaign asks us, whether from a designer or consumer point of view, is “in this moment of survival, do we really need another ad?” 

The posters cleverly place these bold statements within pastoral settings, with cutouts of billboards lining the blue horizons and the green landscapes, suggesting adverts are “out of place” within a natural world.

“We as creatives should be pushing for cleaner, more sustainable forms of communication whether it be OOH or digital OOH (which also consumes a large amount of energy).” Every two weeks in Europe, over six million square metres of poster paper are thrown out: “the paper is not recycled, the ink is not eco-friendly, and the glue used is toxic. Due to this, billboard advertising has a disastrous effect on the environment,” one study from the European Commission claims.

Through his research, Ludlow found an encouraging discovery. His discovery was that since the Victorian era, designers have always had to redesign for good. He found that the current challenges of OOH advertising that we are facing today is nothing new, “and that in the past public outcry has led to legislation of the industry. We hope to be the tip of the spear in bringing attention to this topic and that history repeats itself in some form.”



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