With the Canadian Federal Election set for Oct 21st, 2019, we wanted to give a big GREEN Shoutout to Tom Cull, the official Green Party candidate from London - Fanshawe.
Tom Cull is one of thousands and millions of candidates who ran for public office. However, instead of using wasteful signs that will be thrown away, he wanted to do a different approach. He wanted a green, eco-friendly approach. For his campaign he used recycled cardboard and paper yard waste bags to get his name out to potential voters.
Traditional political lawn signs other advertising signage consists of three different types of material:
1) Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) Film Plastic
2) Polypropylene (PP) Coreplast; and
3) Fibre, similar to boxboard.
In the recycling process, signs are cleaned, shredded and pelletized. The plastic pellets are then sold to manufacturers for use in creating new products, ranging from paint trays and tote bags to drainage pipes.
These materials can be safely recycled for future purposes, but only if the local facility where you live allows this. For example, The municipality of York Region in Ontario, Canada for has diverted over 25 tonnes of election sign material from landfill since 2006. That is a lot of recycled and reused materials.
What is really cool about this story is that it is an innovative initiative that we hope can catch on. There are constantly elections going on at every level. Whether it be local, city, state, provincial, national or beyond. There are thousands and thousands of elections constantly happening around the world. If each of these candidates are spending large amounts of money on marketing and signage, that is an enormous amount of waste that needlessly goes into the landfill.
This is not even mentioning the many candidates, who often lose the election, who refuse to even have the grace and compassion to collect their signs. Surrey, a town in British Columbia, Canada, banned campaign signs outright in public spaces after the city incurred roughly $160,000 in costs associated with cleaning up non-compliant signs after its 2019 municipal election. It is shameful that city employees have to go out of their way to clean up after these politicians who make a mess everywhere with their lawn signs. If they have the time to put up the signs, they should have the time to take them down. But clearly that is not always the case.
There are many studies that suggest that lawn signs / political signage are not even effective in convincing voters!
Recent experiments suggested that there was a 1.7 percentage-point boost to the candidate from the signs -- with a standard error of 0.7 percentage points. (In precincts adjacent to the targeted ones, there was a slightly smaller benefit.)
In how many races would that sort of lawn-sign bump make a difference? Of 6,000-plus general and primary elections in the USA House and Senate races between 2006 and 2012, only 2.2 percent of races were within 1.7 percentage points, according to analysis of initial results. In other words, this could matter in 1-in-50 races. So a short conclusion would be that the wasteful signs don't even make a substantial impact on political outcomes. This is even more the reason to praise the innovative work of Tom Cull here.
The Green party candidate says he’s received positive feedback.
“We’ve been contacted by a number of Green party candidates from across Canada that are interested in the process,” Cull said.
“We worked with a local artist named Angie Quick … who helped us develop a silk-screen method,” Cull said.
The silk-screen method, called photo emulsion, allows Cull’s team to print designs onto yard-waste bags or pieces of paper, which are then wheat-pasted onto recycled cardboard.
Although it doesn't look like politics, politicians or elections will be out of our lives for any foreseeable future. So if we are going to have to have signs, we mine as well have them be useful and eco-friendly.
It is really awesome to see small acts of improvements like this and we hope it is a sign of better things to come.