Thursday, May 22, 2008

Advertising makes you sick

The advertising industry is still one of the most irresponsible, reckless, unethical sectors of our capitalist society.

I am not only referring to its MESSAGE (consume what you don't need) but to the MEDIUM too. Not only the advertised products are often totally unnecessary, the medium used to advertise them is fast becoming even more harmful than the products themselves.

If you think that large billboards are a form of visual pollution, that's nothing compared to the environmental pollution caused by the new generation of plastic billboards and adhesive PVC. These huge adhesive prints stick to vehicles (buses, trams, MTR trains), and can be wrapped around buildings. No size is too big, with adhesive vinyl you can cover a football pitch, if needed. No surface can escape the invasion of these sticky 2-D monsters. As you might have noticed, banks, airlines, and developers are engaged in a billboard size war, the escalation has now resulted in MTR stations being covered from floor to ceiling with huge vinyl prints.

You can ignore them, if you like, but after the advertising campaign is over, somebody will remove these vinyl wraps from the walls, and chuck them into our landfills.

If you ever felt guilty about using too many plastic bags, and have switched to a canvas bag for your grocery shopping, you will probably feel that your little effort is tantamount to rearranging chairs on the sinking Titanic.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is present in countless household products like shower curtains, bags and toys, not to mention piping and automobile interiors. Sadly, PVC is among the most eco-unfriendly plastics and some varieties can release brain-damaing lead and hormone-disrupting phthalates. Its disposal is particularly problematic given that, if incinerated, it will release carcinogenic dioxin and other contaminants into the environment.

The advertising and marketing industry is raking in millions, and nobody is holding it accountable for the pollution it causes. Where is the much trumpeted "Polluters pay" principle? If it was applied, this industry would be forced to clean up its act and find a different way to reach people.

Those who work in that industry consider themselves "creative", if they really are so creative, they can come up with a better idea than sticking PVC on any available surface.

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