Vinyl Advertising Banners have long been a low cost go to for businesses when they need a fast and easy way to advertise. Their versatility, and low cost makes them a cost effective way to promote a message for both business and the general public. One of the features of a Vinyl banner that makes them an effective and popular option for advertising is their long term durability. The main component of a vinyl banner is PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride compound that surrounds a polyester mesh or Scrim for added strength. Both materials are man-made and extremely resistant to moisture or humidity. It is this durability that becomes a negative once they have served their purpose and are no longer needed. In most cases they become landfill bound and join the more than 600.000 tons of Vinyl discarded annually.
The Search for Solutions
Fortunately our society has become more conscience of the long term effects our modern lifestyle has on the planet. With this expanded conscience the search for ways to alleviate some of these environmental stresses has become a fairly mainstream concept. Most of the time these solutions require a certain degree of creativity, but most of all there must be some functionality derived from the effort in order for it to be considered a success. One of these solutions is known as Upcycling, also known as creative reuse. This process involves transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.
So in the case of Vinyl banners you have a durable material that has text or images on one or both sides and can be hard to work with because of said durability. Finding a function for this material outside of using the larger banners as a protective tarp, or sun shade requires a creative can-do approach in order for there to be a successful Upcycleable end product.
Creativity Wins Out
One example of this “can do” approach can be found in Montclair New Jersey which is home to many art institutions and theaters. While promoting all the community events, the Montclair Center was left with a large pile of used banners in their storage room. Looking for ideas the Montclair BID’s Executive Director took to Instagram posting a picture of the banners. This is where he found Claire Cohen of Montclair Made and a solution to his dilemma. Claire Cohen who has been re-purposing old banners into shopping bags for years provided a popular solution and began turning these old banners into fashionable shopping bags that were then sold to the public with several charities benefiting from the profits.
The story of Montclair’s resourceful solution for their used banners is fortunately not an isolated occurrence. There are many groups and companies promoting and participating in the Upcycling of used vinyl banners. Another example is a mother and daughter team in Mendota Heights Minnesota who started a company focused on providing a solution for large companies to be socially responsible. The result was Relan which contracts with corporations and large organizations to turn their old banners and left over promotional products into corporate products and gifts. Some of the types of products produced from these banners include wine totes, backpacks, wallets and even guitar cases. Items that were destined for incineration or disposal at a landfill find another use. This is the primary idea behind Upcycling, which focuses on a product finding new life with a different use.
Outside of a business approach to the Upcyclcing of used banners you can find efforts on the community and educational level. In 2013 Students in a Creative Problem Solving class at the University Of Central Oklahoma were asked to create fashionable designs from used vinyl banners. The results were more than surprising as they demonstrated what could be accomplished with an open mind and some creativity. More and more communities are targeting their efforts at Upcycling used products. One particular effort is “Upcycle Tuscon” in Arizona that organizes meetings of residents that get together to share ideas and create products from used vinyl banners.
What can you do as a consumer of PVC banners?
Being proactive and participating in the recycling or Upcycling of material created by your business or organization can help relieve environmental stress and build goodwill within your community. Below are a few ways to do this.
Search for companies such as “Montclaire Made” and Relan to team up with for a solution.
See if there are any local organizations that can use them. Local craft or youth organizations may have use for them. Posting in your local Facebook community groups may help you find such a group.
Start and sponsor a community group that gets together and produces products from used banner such as the organization “Upcycle Tuscon” in Arizona.
With a little effort and creativity business owners can do their part to reduce the stress their business places on our planet and create useful items.