Ingenious Green Billboards That Make Advertising Eco-Friendly


As big brands become more environmentally conscious, green advertising is steadily increasing in an attempt to court new generations of eco-savvy consumers. Billboards afford ad companies the biggest space and greatest visibility, and corporations are taking advantage of these intrusive structures in more thoughtful ways. Lush gardens, solar and wind-powered displays, and other “living” signs have been transformed from otherwise obnoxious ad clutter into attention-grabbing and ingenious eco statements.

Natural beauty and skin care company Burt’s Bees created a billboard made from coupons to promote their new line of moisturizers. Once the tear-off paper was removed, a woman’s face was revealed with rehydrated skin. A massive piece of vinyl sheeting remained and was given to the Durham School of the Arts in North Carolina to be used as a rain catchment system so farmers could recycle 6,300 gallons of rainwater per year.

This Coke billboard is a collaboration with the World Wildlife Federation in the Philippines. Fukien tea plants scattered across a 60 foot canvas absorb 13 pounds of carbon dioxide annually (46,800 pounds total). The entire billboard is made from eco-friendly materials, right down to the coke bottles the plants rest in and the soil made from organic fertilizers. An irrigation system keeps things fresh and watered.

Recently funded on Kickstarter is Urban Air, an eco project by LA-based artist Stephen Glassman. Existing billboards are being transformed into suspended bamboo gardens, creating a greener skyline. A billboard company has donated multiple spaces along LA’s never-ending thoroughfares to lend their support. The artist is working with structural and environmental engineers, media experts, billboard fabricators, bamboo growers, plumbers, and outdoor advertising specialists to hone his vision.

Delta Air Lines took the word “organic” literally. They stuck 10 people in a Times Square billboard for one of their campaigns. Depending on your experience with airlines, this could be considered a nightmare brought to life.

McDonald’s surprised us with this Chicago billboard on which the company promoted their salads and “healthier” menu by growing a lettuce garden. Watch a time-lapse video of the green ad space in action.

In Lima, Peru, residents that suffer from a lack of drinkable water have the University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) to thank for a water-producing billboard. The sign takes moisture from the air — high humidity aids the process since Lima’s rainfall numbers are low — and converts it into filtered drinking water. A tap at the base of the billboard offers up to 25 gallons of water per day for residents. Since it was installed in December last year, the billboard has produced 2,496 gallons of potable water.

Brendan O’Grady came up with this Aeroform pod that sits behind a roadside billboard and makes use of the needless structure as an above ground living space. “The form of the structure is directly influenced by its location and program. The shell, which reflects its context of the highway and the automobile, is streamlined on the exterior for optimal aerodynamic and climatic performance,” the designer writes. “The name Aeroform is derived from the term aerofoil, which is a structure having a shape that provides stability, or directional control in a flying object.”

The motto in Dubai seems to be bigger is better — at least when it comes to this biodegradable billboard made from eco-friendly inks and materials, right down to the framework. The billboard took seven hours to assemble and stretches over 3,000 feet long. The advert won a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Tropicana’s bus billboard campaign brightened the morning grind of commuters by filling the display area with hundreds of oranges. The acid from the citrus fruit, augmented with copper and zinc to create a nifty electrochemical reaction, generated electricity and set things aglow.

This attractive, honeycomb-shaped billboard transformed the bland ad space into a creative vertical garden along a riverside area of Argentina.

Wimbledon went green with these grassy portraits created by artists to advertise their sponsorship in unique ways.

Bangkok-based architecture and design firm Apostrophy is yet another company that took the “organic” approach in a different direction. Their dwelling is fitted between a billboard and the wall of a building. Iron panels separate the interior, and the trailer-type flooring makes the whole structure entirely transportable. The innovative home offers residents lower rent and cleaner energy, made possible by the ad income.

Although the Single Hauz isn’t constructed from an actual billboard, it used the slender, perched design of the urban ad space to create a sustainable, modern abode. The 290-square foot home would appeal to fans of the current downsize living trend and offers plenty of comfort — including a kitchen, bathroom, living area, balcony, bedroom loft, and roof access. The carbon footprint is minimal, especially since the most invasive aspect of the design is a single pole that forms the home’s foundation. This feature also allows homeowners to take advantage of normally unused spaces, like flood-prone zones.