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Eco-posters – promoting ideas for sustainability, responsibility and happiness



Eco-posters could show the impact we have on the environment through our everyday choices and actions, how we can reduce our ecological footprint by making a little difference, and the beauty of nature. The purpose of these posters is to raise environmental awareness and to promote lifestyles in which consumption and profit is not the central goal but instead it is the idea of One Planet Living (BioRegional, 2014; WWF, 2012, n.d.). If everyone made a small difference in their lifestyles we could make a big difference together.

In our modern, consumption-based society profit is more important than the ecological consequences. Advertising posters encourage us to buy more in order to support the economy. They suggest that we look better and/or live a better lifestyle when we buy the product. But they don't show the environmental consequences that the production of these products has. 

A major consequence of our over-consumption and thoughtless behavior is not only climate change (IPCC, 2014) but also the accumulation of waste in the environment, imposing a threat to wildlife, the functioning of ecosystems and us (Barnes et al., 2009). We depend on the ecosystems for food, materials and health; by destroying them we destroy our livelihood (Friends of the Earth Europe, 2009; Gonçalves, 2008; WWF, 2012).

No one tells us how to make it better (Leonard and Sachs, 2013), how to live within the Earth´s natural limits. Eco-posters can raise environmental awareness by making our ecological impact visible and they can support a sustainable lifestyle by giving advice of how to live eco-friendly. Furthermore, the posters can bring nature into the cities by showing pictures of natural ecosystems.

Advertisements for products surrounding us everywhere, it is time that we make sustainability part of every ones everyday life. A simply way of doing this could be by placing eco-posters around cities. 

Category of the action

Changing public perceptions on climate change

What actions do you propose?

First, eco-posters need to be designed. Pictures and phrases need to put it straight to the point. These posters could be thematically connected to each other and tell both individually and together a story. They should address environmental consequences that the different life stages of the stuff we consume have, starting with the extraction of raw materials and ending with the disposal of waste (Leonard, 2010). The posters could be created in collaboration with the WWF and Bioregional to promote the One-Planet-Living perspective (BioRegional, 2014; WWF, n.d.) as well as with the support of the Story of Stuff Project (Leonard, 2013).

In order to display clear messages the content of the posters could be created with marketing professionals. It will be important that the statements are neither too weak nor patronizing. The posters should bring across the environmental problems we are facing through our present behavior in an educational way.

Considering advertising posters that don't have long sentences on them explaining their intention but rather pictures and the label of the brand, I think that it doesn't take many words to explain the environmental problems. Pictures on the eco-posters should make it clear. Phrases will be added to support the pictures, e.g. if the relationship between our behavior and the environmental consequence is to complicated or to make people think about their behavior. Furthermore, some posters should give suggestions for how to live more sustainable instead of focusing on our appearance and the aspiration for more in order to be happy.

Second, eco-posters need to be spread around the city in order to reach people. The local news could be involved to support the change to a more sustainable lifestyle in the city and presentations could be given at schools, universities and to the public.

The introduction of the idea of sustainable lifestyles could be combined with a big cleaning up event that makes the city clean (Keep Britain Tidy Network, 2014a, 2014b). From then on posters could advert keeping it clean and emphasize why it is important.

Eco-posters would disagree with our dominant lifestyle. They would encourage people to buy less instead of more. Thus, companies might be worried about their sales. A key message that needs to be presented to companies, hopefully making them willing to contribute to promoting sustainability, and also to the public is the approach that profit is not the purpose of business but rather it is the creation of value for the customer (Drucker, 1973) and that there is an imbalance if consumer needs are either neglected or escalated (Sheth et al., 2011). Sheth et al. (2011) suggest the concept of Mindful Consumption in which marketing supports sustainable consumption by selling products that are more durable, easier to upgrade and have multiple uses, by increasing prices that include the full environmental and social costs and place value on quality and not quantity, by promoting sustainability as opposed to acquisitive and repetitive consumption, and by creating places for services and repairs and the opportunity to share products. Currently businesses are trying to increase their sales year after year because they are aiming for more. By redefining the goal to better we could live more sustainable, preserve nature and be happier (Leonard and Sachs, 2013).

What should eco-posters show?

In the following I will give some examples of what the posters could show.

Regarding the ecological impact that our current consumption has on the Earth’s ecosystems, pictures of the destruction of rainforest could be shown with a phrase saying: Reducing meat consumption could save the rainforest and preserve biodiversity.

Encouraging people to bin their waste instead of dumping it into the environment could be done by showing pictures of waste in parks and forests, on beaches and in the oceans in comparison to either the same or another area that is clean, saying: Where would you rather be? (see upper figure below) Or a picture with a plastic bag or bottle in a park could have the title: If you don’t bin me, it’s likely that I’ll end up in the ocean and stay there for hundreds of years OR I am waste because you declared me as that, but actually I am a resource – bin me! (see lower figure below).

In order to bring nature into the cities pictures of intact rainforest AND underwater worlds could be shown with a little note: Please don’t chop me down you depend on me AND Please don’t use me as a rubbish bin, I provide you with food.

Who will take these actions?

The actions can be taken by individuals and groups with the support of the (environmental) council of the city and/or other non-profit organizations and/or companies. A website could be established to give information and make the posters available for everyone to download.

The project will be based on volunteers who would like to raise environmental awareness in their communities. In order to start the project with a group of people volunteers might be attracted through presentations, newspaper articles and/or by getting in touch with existing local volunteering groups that campaign for environmental projects.

Where will these actions be taken?

I would like to start the project in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK where I currently live. A major problem in this city (as in many others in the UK and all around the world) is the litter lying around in streets, parks and on beaches. By taking part or even starting a volunteering project that cleans up streets and beaches I wanted to change this situation. But I noticed that nothing will change if I only clean up the waste from others. Yes, it is a start but not the solution. Waste is the last stage in the “lifecycle” of the stuff we consume and thus the effect and not the cause of the problem. So if nothing changes at the source of the problem I will be cleaning up streets and beaches for the rest of my life. The cause of the problem is the bad design of products, the production, our over-consumption and the fact that people do not care (Friends of the Earth Europe, 2009; Leonard, 2010). With our behavior and actions we define our own lives and also the community and area we live in. By living sustainable we can show that we care not only about us but also about others and the environment (The Story of Stuff Project, 2012). Eco-posters could bring the environmental awareness that is needed to make this planet cleaner – its cities, parks, beaches, oceans and also its atmosphere.

Depending on the success of the project volunteers in other communities could start this project in their cities and so it could spread around the world.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Emissions will be reduced as soon as people start changing their everyday behavior and actions. A reduction in consumption of any kind of resources (e.g., fuel, electricity) and products (e.g., clothes, plastic bags and bottles, meat) as well as a responsible disposal of waste will result in less resources being extracted, less products being produced, transported and wasted and thus in a reduction of emissions.

What are other key benefits?

  • Preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Reducing the suffering of animals if meat consumption is reduced
  • Cleaner cities and nature reserves
  • Support of the community if people realize that everyone can make a difference and that we make our surrounding to what it is
  • Happier people

What are the proposal’s costs?

Side Effects:

As mentioned above a side effect is that the promotion of sustainability contradicts the capitalism that dominates our system today. In order to change this system people need to be made aware of the environmental and social impact that our lifestyle has and that our current pollution and destruction of ecosystems will eventually affect everyone.  

Economical costs:

Assuming that the design of the posters is done by volunteers costs arise for the printing of the posters. For example, in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK prices for posters, depending on size and quantity, are in the order of £150 (ca. 250 USD) for 250 DIN A3 poster or £60 (ca. 100 USD) for 10 DIN A2 poster printed on 200gsm paper. Additional material might be needed to strengthen the posters such as chipboard (adding about £200 (ca. 340 USD) if this was done for the 250 DIN A3 posters). Material is also needed to fix the posters to posts or walls. The best way of doing that needs to be tested but costs should not be higher than £200 (ca. 340 USD).

With the help of companies which might be interested in advertizing their durable products or repair services in the context of sustainability even billboards might be rented. But this is rather a long term plan.

Time line

Shifting behavior is a long process through which everyone has to go individually. In order to change to a sustainable lifestyle people have to be willing to do so.

For the near future this project aims to raise environmental awareness. When people are aware of the consequences of their action they might start changing first one and then other behaviors and adapt new, more sustainable habits.

In medium to long term, this project can lead to a One-Planet-Living lifestyle so that we are living within the Earth’s natural limits (BioRegional, 2014; WWF, n.d.). The aim is to change the goal of our lifestyle to better instead of more (Leonard and Sachs, 2013).

Related proposals

The following proposals are thematically related to my presented proposal:

-Global plan contest: Using Natural Systems Principles to Transition toward a Sustainable Future by dewoldt

-Shifting behavior for a changing climate: Climate Change Warning Labels on Gas Pump Nozzles by Our Horizon

-Shifting behavior for a changing climate: Lay the foundation for change in the minds and hands oft he future by ak1013

-Shifting behavior for a changing climate: Rapid Increase in Science Education - RISE by PlanetRISE

-Shifting behavior for a changing climate: CO2 Production => Give insights to consumers by spoutrain

-Shifting behavior for a changing climate: WE should be the new I by positivethinker


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