Three Billboards Outside Pollution, More Than An Eyesore

Three Billboards Outside Pollution, More Than An Eyesore

Have you watched a drama film entitled Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? The movie tells a story about a mother who rents three billboards to seek for attention to her daughter’s unsolved murder. The billboards draw a lot of attention from people in the city, even if most responses are negative.

In that story, we are shown how much attentions are drawn by just three billboards. However, not every billboard standing in our town get as much attention as those three billboards. Most of the time, we just ignore it.

Nowadays, there are too many billboards already and the term ‘visual pollution’ is real in many big cities, caused by numbers of billboards planted without aesthetic arrangement. Maybe that’s why we don’t pay much attention to it, as much as we used to. But even though not all billboards are getting enough attention, companies are still using it for promoting their products.

Ordinary billboards are only providing pictures and texts without any further use. This way, instead of getting the needed information about products being promoted, we tend to see it as another eyesore. So, the point is, instead of just creating another eyesore, why don’t we develop it into something useful?

Here in this article we will show you how many potentials that a billboard can have. So, not only providing the information and advertisement for companies, these billboards are also doing something which may save us and our nature if applied the whole world.

Water Generator Billboard

A billboard in Peru, standing in the middle of the capital city of the country, Lima, can produce up to 100 liters of clean water a day. Amazing thing about this billboard worth mentioned is, it produces water like magic out of thin air.

Of course, it is not a pure magic like what we find in Harry Potter universe, but rather the work of physics. The advertising board generate water from humidity in the air using basic filtration system, helped by the force of gravity.

Lima itself is one of the driest desert cities in the world because it is located near Atacama Desert. However, the humidity in that city is pretty high, with the average of 83% humidity. Most of the time, the citizens of Lima depend on drainage from Andes to survive as well as runoff of glacier melt.

This billboard is an innovation brought by a local ad agency, FCB Mayo together with University of Engineering and Technology of Peru (UTEC). The water generator advertisement board was hoped to be able to motivate Peruvian students to learn about engineering which can solve the problems in their hometown.

“We wanted future students to see how engineers can also solve social needs in daily basis kinds of situations,” said Alejandro Aponte, creative director of FCB Mayo in 2013. The innovation didn’t stop there, as UTEC once again announced the development of this water generator advertising board.

In 2014, scientists from UTEC announced a development of water generator billboard, but this time it has an additional feature: the newer water generator can also filter out pollutants in the air. This advertising board was claimed to be “totally effective in removing dust, metal and stone particles” in the air.

This development of water generator billboard is aimed to solve further problems faced by Lima beside water scarcity, which is air pollution. Not only able to produce 489,000 cubic meters of purified air to the city, this billboard also managed to eliminate almost 100% of airborne bacteria, based on the study conducted by UTEC researchers.

Lima’s air pollution rate is actually tripled WHO’s maximum recommended level. Thus, this billboard can be said to fulfill the needs of the city: water generator that also works as air Purifier.

Air Purifier Billboards

While UTEC and FCB Mayo worked together to build a billboard that can generate water and filter out physical pollutants such as dust, metal, and stone particles from the air, the billboards we are going to talk about are concentrating more on fighting substances in the air which may harm our environment.

There are two such billboards we are going to talk about in this article, the first one is living billboard made of 3600 pots of plants. Working together with World Wildlife Fund, Coca Cola built a 60-by-60-foot billboard in Philippines consisting of 3600 Coca-Cola-bottle pots of Funkien tea plants.

“It is an embodiment of our company’s ‘Live Positively’ commitment to making a positive difference in the world by incorporating sustainability into everything that we do,” said Guilermo Aponte, president of Coca Cola Philippines.

Apparently, the living billboard was not just another ‘sore eye’, since it has been contributing so much to the environment. Not only built from recycled Coca-Cola bottle, but the billboard is also able to absorb tons of carbon dioxide.

“This billboard helps alleviate air pollution within its proximate areas as it can absorb a total of 46,800 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, on estimate,” said Anthony Gao, a botanist, as quoted from Adweek.

The second ‘air purifier’ billboard we are going to talk about is the NOx capturer billboard built by PURETi, working together with Toyota. NOx, or Nitrogen dioxide is a harmful substance usually found in gas and diesel fueled emission.

The substance is “an indirect greenhouse gas and a key ingredient in the formation of acid rain and smog,” said Glen Finkel from PURETi. Not only that, if absorbed by human, this substance can also cause a number of respiratory ailments.

The idea to reduce NOx in the air was done by coating the billboard’s vinyl with a material called titanium dioxide. This material, after being exposed to sunlight, humidity, and wind will react with nitrogen oxide in the air by capturing the nitrogen and leaving the oxygen alone.

“NOx is reduced through the catalytic process to a small amount of relatively harmless nitrates that get washed off safely into the ground,” said Finkel. This project was said to be able to reverse the equivalent of 5285 vehicles worth of NOx per month.


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