London’s air pollution continues to make the news time and time again. Only six days into 2017, Brixton Road had already broken the annual pollution limit. And only a few weeks later, London’s pollution levels surpassed those of Beijing for a brief period of time, leading to London’s mayor Sadiq Khan declaring the situation a “health crisis”. But despite the alarming situation, many young Londoners are still oblivious to just how hazardous the pollution really, with seventy percent of teenagers being unaware of how bad the city’s air is.
Clean Air Now, a youth-led group of British activists, is out to change that situation one billboard campaign at a time. Last summer, artist Vasilisa Forbes, graphic designer Claire Matthews and photographer Terry Paul founded the charity together with a group of like-minded anti-pollution volunteers they had gathered on the internet. After the launch of their first campaign, they are now back with a series of billboards promoting electric transportation. Teaming up with a number of Grime scene all-stars including P Money, Tempah T and Poppy Ajudha, they have stayed true to their unusually artistic and bold approach to environmental activism. Their 48 sheet billboards, which were created in association with Tesla and the filtering face mask brand Vogmask, are being displayed around London’s most polluted areas. Ditching the commonly used idyllic imagery of flowers and blue skies young and urban eco-gang within an apocalyptic scenery, Clean Air Now is setting a strong example of how to create awareness amongst a young target group that is too often overlooked in environmental campaigns. Seeing that air pollution currently kills more people than HIV, this pursuit is now more urgent than ever.