Chinese Environmentalists Fight Cars With Green Footprints

Walking becomes a form of art.

Let’s say you’re the first environmental protection non-profit operating in a country with the largest market for cars in the whole world. Let’s say your country’s air pollution problems are getting out of control. Let’s say you want to hammer home the pollution-busting value of walking.

Let’s say you have gallons of  non-toxic, washable, quick-drying green paint.

If you’re Jody Xiong, working with China’s Environmental Protection Foundation, you do this: paint a leafless tree onto a 7-meter wide, 12-meter long white canvas, and lay it over a pedestrian crossing on a busy city street. Next, lay paint-soaked sponges on either sidewalk, so every time a pedestrian crossed the street, they left a trail of green footprints across the canvas…

…making the tree bloom with color.

The symbolism is clear – the more you walk, the greener everything gets – and from its initial pilot on 7 main streets of Shanghai, that message was carried to 132 roads in 15 cities across China, with an estimated 3.92 million participants. A follow-up survey pointed to a sharp rise in eco-awareness in the targeted areas (and to underline the message further, one of the green-trodden canvases is now hanging in the Shanghai’s Zheng Da Museum of Modern Art).

Sometimes a lot of tiny steps can add up to one great big one.

Images: Bored Panda & DDB China

Mike Sowden

Mike Sowden is a freelance writer based in the north of England, obsessed with travel, storytelling and terrifyingly strong coffee. He has written for online & offline publications including Mashable, Matador Network and the San Francisco Chronicle, and his work has been linked to by Lonely Planet, World Hum and Lifehacker. If all the world is a stage, he keeps tripping over scenery & getting tangled in the curtain - but he's just fine with that.