This French City Banned Ads, See Why We Should Too!

We’ve read stories of cities all over the world that are making efforts to get rid of, or cut down on outdoor advertising.

In 2014 the French city of Grenoble banned outdoor advertising altogether. The mayor of Grenoble instead has plans to plant 50 young trees in the place where the advertisements existed.

The idea is that by having an ad-free outside space, the residents are sold the idea of nature and their natural surroundings rather than excessive products.

The man behind the ban is Éric Piolle, who is the fist ever elected Green Party mayor in any city in France.

Piolle's entire political strategy is based around the idea of fundamental change to positively impact the environment.

From expanding existing organic school lunch programs and car-sharing programs to having less cars on the road and more bike and pedestrian areas, Piolle believes in radically changing the way we interact with the natural world.

But how does the proliferation of advertising impact the environment and our relationship with it?

When it comes to modern western society, there is no denying that we over-consume and undervalue.

Everything that we do, from mass farming practices to fast fashion is excessive, cheap and advertised, the message coming from large corporations is overwhelmingly 'you need to buy more.'

Forbes reported that in the 1930s the average American woman owned nine outfits, today that figure is 30. One per day of the month.

13 million tonnes of clothes end up in landfill every year, not to mention that the water and fuel that goes into creating these clothes.

it's not just fashion, globally every year we throw away 40% of all food produced for consumption. (Tweet this!)

Our obsession with 'more for less' has had an enormous impact on our environment, we're always searching for bargains, we want to spend less, and we want to get more.

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This mentality is a massive shift from our grandparent's age, where swirling a jar of sauce with water was common practice as not to waste the last bit. An age where we mended, fixed and made our clothes before purchasing more, a time when we knew where our materials and foods originated.

So what changed?

Capitalism has been a double-edged sword; the more we have, the more we want and the more we're sold.

It is almost impossible in most cities of the world to get from your house door to your workplace without being bombarded with advertising.

In the western world, we see 5,000 ads per day, an increase from 500 a day in the 1970s.

So what is the solution?

Perhaps the answer it to stop the message that we need more and start the message that we have so much, we have the most beautiful planet in the world, we just need to respect and protect it.

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When asked if banning billboards was going to save the planet, Piolle responded that there is no single miracle solution, but that the measure is consistent with an alternative vision for the future, stating:

"We need to put an end to this hyper-consumerism, where citizens are no longer viewed as people but as consumers"
- Éric Piolle

And perhaps with this shift in thinking, we could use our advertised world to spread messages of why and how we can take care of it, rather than what we can consume to ruin it.

Once we get away from the buy more mentality, the ability to experience is what you're left with.

Try this: every time you see an ad for something and have that instant hit of 'I want that' or even 'I need that' go for a 20-minute walk, preferably outside, and think about if you actually need that item.

If you come up with the answer 'no' then find out how much it would have cost you and put that into an account.

This account is now your experience account. Once you've said no to enough 'things' use this money to go out into the world and see something beautiful, you can even save enough to visit these 10 natural wonders you need to visit before you die.

This idea of experience over purchase is something that resonate with me; by consuming less and enjoying more we can not only leave a positive impact on the world around us, we can also lead happier and fuller lives.

What can you do this week to spend less and enjoy more? Let us know in the comments!

Images sourced: Shutterstock

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