Pollution is an eye-catcher!

Have you ever made the experience of walking through a street or a place in your city where you didn’t feel confident because of the surroundings?

On the contrary hopefully everyone knows locations where they feel relaxed and happy. We think there’s a big difference in opening the door of your home and walking into a street full of high-rise buildings and waste in the side streets rather than starting your day in a welcoming environment with beautiful nature, fresh air and no type of hectic. But of course this is a matter of opinion. Every person’s well-being is created individually. However, our surroundings affect us definitely in some kind of way. And that’s exactly what we were interested in.

On that account we wanted to focus on what is called “visual pollution”. This topic covers exactly the point of an aesthetic issue and refers to the impact of pollution that influences someone’s ability to enjoy a view.

Pollution can be little things which are essential whether you have a good or a bad day. Visual pollution describes the visually unattractive elements of a certain landscape.


Here some examples of what can cause visual pollution:

    • Advertising billboards (Reklameflächen)
    • Telephone and electric lines (elektrische Leitungen)
    • Open storages of trash
    • Street signs and graffiti
    • Traffic lights
    • Dirty lakes
    • Broken cars
    • Ugly Buildings
    • Littering
    • Smog
    • No grassed area
    • Crowded places


Rising stress levels & mental health
The World Health Organization found out that people who have a bad view out of their window are 40 % more likely to fall prey to depression. Several other studies prove that our physical environment has an impact on our stress levels and mental health. As an example they mention that people who drive in city streets have much higher stress levels than those who drive on roads in the country side.

Destroyed uniqueness
Every town used to have its own unique character. Now, our towns, cities and suburbs seem to look all the same. Fast-food restaurants, billboards, highways or gas stations everywhere – and in every place they appear similar. In our opinion it’s sad that our hometowns are losing their diversity. Although we think Zurich and Izmir are not as much affected of this point than cities like New York or Bangkok. However, here are some adverse effects (Beeinträchtigungen):

  • Too much of everything
    (cars, crowds, noise, hectic, information etc.)
  • Distraction (Ablenkung)
  • Eye fatigue (Ermüdung der Augen)


Visual pollution maybe isn’t the most urgent issue in comparison to water or air pollution. Although you must always keep in mind that it’s a by-product of every form of pollution.

Here are some tips how we can do something against visual pollution:

  • Don’t put a lot of posters/advertising all at one place
  • Reduce graffiti etc.
  • Protect trees and natural resources of a city
  • Appreciate the nature
  • Rubbish belongs into a waste bin
  • Call others attention and explain them the effects of visual pollution
  • Maybe clear something up even if it doesn’t belong to you
  • Keep the aspect of visual pollution in mind when planning new buildings/streets (responsibility of the government)
  • Use public transport instead of a car (or bike sharing)


Equipped with this information our team made an excursion to its cities Zurich (Switzerland) and Izmir (Turkey) to look for places which affect people negatively in their everyday life and in their view. Our goal was to take pictures and then compare them. We found a lot of examples of visual pollution like waste on the street, graffiti, traffic and a lot more.

One thing that attracted our attention was that in Izmir there are a lot more places with rubbish in public whereas in Zurich electric railway lines are a big problem. Of course it wasn’t possible to compare everything with each other but we could get some interesting results from our pictures. In Zürich we also found many crammed places (people, bicycles etc.).

Take a look at our pictures. Feel free to leave a comment with your own opinion. 🙂


Check out our self-made video (in German):
Video Visual Pollution Contribution Zürich & Izmir
Video Visual Pollution Contribution Zürich & Izmir (mysimpleshow.com)

Video text in English:
Our expedition in Zurich and Izmir to the topic “visual pollution”
In the past few weeks our team was in Zurich and Izmir on the road, to find places that catch the viewer’s eye negatively. We recorded everything that we felt in the environment as a nuisance in images for you. We detected much graffiti, street lights, advertising, garbage on the road, construction sites, electric cables, and much more. We were wondering, what you think about this apparent contamination. We find the topic very important, because it subconsciously affects people in everyday life. Here you can see our collection of images from Zurich and Izmir. What do you see? What bothers you? How dare you to these images? What would have to be changed on the screen, so that you feel comfortable in this situation? What feeling do you have at the sight of these images? What bothers you in the landscape and what would you perceive as beautiful? Thank you for your attention. We would appreciate a comment from you. We wish you merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Experts forward!

For our project we also created an experts’ request and sent it to some experts we found in the internet. Unfortunately, we haven’t received an answer. As we are very interested to get a respond to the following questions, we hope some experts find their way on www.dontwastemy.energy and maybe want to leave a comment to the questions.

  1. Connecting to the topic visual pollution, how does a bad view make an impact on a person’s mental health? With what kind of problems are they dealing with?
  2. What is a welcoming environment for you? How important is a welcoming environment for being comfortable in your own skin?
  3. Walking through a city – how satisfied are you with what you see in your own environment? What is positive and what should be the first thing to change?
  4. What does a city has to consider in urban planning (new buildings, streets) that people feel good in their environment?
  5. If you have any further information, which you think are important to know, we would be happy about your input.

We are looking forward to your feedback.


Creating this project made us learn a lot of new things. In fact we didn’t even know the term “visual pollution”. As we collected information about the topic we got more and more into it. We suddenly witnessed many different types of visual pollution in our own countries.

In our own opinion it’s really time to focus more on the effects of visual pollution because everybody can be affected by it. If we change our behavior referring to the environment, this may change a bad day into a good. Visual pollution has more influences on ourselves than we think. We should reflect more what makes us feel good and we need to get active in removing things which have a bad impact on the population.

We had much fun doing our excursion and it was a valuable experience at the same time.

Many thanks for your attention! 🙂

Your ZurIzmir Visual Pollution Team
Céline & Daniela (Team Zurich)
Seray, Serife, Gülbahar & Aybar (Team Izmir)

PS: You can also take part in our survey if you’d like.

Understanding Pollution: Visual Pollution is more than just a bad view (understandingpollution.com)
Brandalism: Visual Pollution (brandalism.ch)
Pollution Issues: Visual Pollution (pollutionissues.com)
Wikipedia: Visual Pollution (wikipedia.org)

More Pictures
Examples of Visual Pollution all around the World (google.ch)

More Videos
The Battle Against Billboards and Visual Pollution “This Space Available,” Director Gwenaëlle Gobé (youtube.com)
Visual Pollution Video by Ecomorph Production (youtube.com)

☷ See the project teams here »
☵ Some words about the contributions »

3 thoughts on “Pollution is an eye-catcher!

  1. I do really appreciate your article. But I think the negative effects of modern, functional architecture (what is often describeb as ugly buildings) on the people who live in or nearby them weren`t mentioned enough. The rest was very informative and interesting to know.

  2. Hallo zusammen
    Vielen Dank für den Spot auf das Thema visual Pollution. In der Stadt Zürich tragen sehr viele Fachstellen dazu bei, dass sich diese in Grenzen hält. Nebst der öffentlichen Reinigung gibt es dazu (zu) viele Vorschriften und Standards für Bauten und die Möblierung öffentlicher Räume. Euer Spot ist interessant, gerade auch mit Blick auf die Verdichtung urbaner Räume. Gerne leite ich den Projektlink weiter an Kollegen und Kolleginnen, die sich mit städtebaulichen Fragen und der Gestaltung von öffentlichen Räumen befassen.
    Freundliche Grüsse
    Christine Bächtiger
    Umwelt- & Gesundheitsschutz Stadt Zürich

  3. We just read your contribution and would like to give you a feedback.
    Your text is really appealing and informative. It\’s easy to understand and interesting to read.
    Some details are a little bit contradictory like the point that the bicycle parking in Zurich are a visual pollution. But you also suggest to take more often the bicycle.
    In the most points we agree with you. It would be interessting to see some different places in Izmir, maybe from downtown and mainstations, to really compare both cities.

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