Monday, 20 December 2010

Recycling Posters - Reviewed


As I will be designing and making my own recycling poster after Christmas, I decided to review some existing posters to help me decide on a design and to give me some ideas about what does and doesn't work when designing something that should influence people.
I found these posters on Google Images and decided to talk about them, as they are all images that grabbed my attention.

Poster One - Bottled Water

This is a poster from the USA which addresses the issue of recycling plastic water bottles. The poster opens with a list of facts about the vast amount of water that is consumed globally. After giving you such basic facts about water, the poster talks about the small number of bottles that are recycled. These facts are interesting enough to keep someone interested while looking at the poster, which is long enough to get the message across and urge the viewer to recycle.
From a design point of view, the poster is well designed using blue, black and white as a simple colour scheme. The images create a simplified explanation of the facts written in text, to make it easier to understand.
The poster involves the viewer with the tag line "It's Up To You to Change the World" which puts responsibility on the viewer to take action in a way that suggests "We've told you what impact your wastefullness has, now go and think about what you've done". As much as I tend to dislike posters that try to guilt people into taking action, I find that this one works very well.
The tag line is definitely something I would consider utilising in my own design, as it is very thought provoking and tag lines are a valuable tool in advertising. I'm not 100% sure I'd use a line like "It's Up To You To Change The World", but I'd certainly like to try and use an inspiring line for viewers of my poster to take away when they stop looking at my poster.

Poster Two - Recycling Saves Energy

Another poster that feeds you plenty of facts, this poster shows the effect recycling can have on saving energy. It's laid out in a more informative way than a traditional poster, and much like the previous poster, it uses images to explain the concepts expressed in the text.
Just like the last poster, the colour scheme is very basic and fairly easy on the eyes. The fonts are easily read and clearly stand out on the paper. My only issue with the type  is the handwritten-style font on the right hand side (under the big orange type). This text is slightly hard to read and doesn't really fit with the basic style of the rest of the type at all.
The layout is basic and leads your eyes across the page in the style it should be read, which avoids confusion, but the landscape style of the poster is off-putting as most posters are portrait and at first this different orientation can be uneasy on the eye.
In terms of what I would use from this in my own work, I would probably like to use a simple colour scheme like this poster (though I don't know if I would personally use orange, green and blues), because I like the uniform feel a set colour scheme gives.

 Poster Three - Cans and Televisions

This poster is much more basic in its design than the previous two. It invokes a less cheery mood, the harshness of the black background immediately grabbing attention, and it is much more minimalistic with only one fact on display.
The recycle logo, with the cans within it, is really eyecatching. The folds of the logo (where the arrow folds to make a right angle) are still apparent with a change in the colour and pattern of the cans.
The text on this poster is very simplistic - no special fonts or colours. The text is easy to read and could potentially be viewed from a distance without much involvement from the viewer unlike the previous posters which would require the viewer to get much closer to the poster. 
The fact on this poster - "Recycling a single can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours" - is a simple fact that immediately provokes a reaction in the viewer. This poster could potentially be placed in a cafe or a shop and the viewer may well have a can in their hand as they read it. The fact makes the simple statement that it doesn't take much effort to make a difference when it comes to recycling.
I would take inspiration from the recycle logo in this poster. I have toyed with the idea of doing something inventive with the recycle logo, and the use of the cans here is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.

Poster Four - Recycled Poster

I like clever posters, and this last poster fits that criteria nicely. Still in a very simple style, it delivers just enough information to make a point. The fundamental message of the poster is to encourage people to recycle paper, and it displays this by telling you what the poster 'used to be'. The likelihood that every one of these posters was originally advertising a frisbee game is unlikely, but this design allows a lot of room for different versions. So many things are printed on paper: there is potential for a whole range of these posters ("This piece of paper used to be a restaurant napkin", "This piece of paper used to be a business document", etc).
The colour scheme is basic and the font is easy to read, and the hints of blue indicate the presence of blue bins all around you where you can recycle paper. This makes a statement that you may not have noticed the bins before, much like you may not have particularly thought the blue text was particularly remarkable.
In terms of the layout, I like how the text is shaped like one of the arrows on the recycle logo. At first glance, I didn't notice this and was very confused by the placement of the text, but the clever way it was arranged seems to further get the message across once you notice it. The style of the poster is clever and the eye is naturally drawn down to the recycle logo and the 'look for the blue bins near you' line.
My only real irritation with this poster is the indication that it used to be an ad for a frisbee game, when the folded up corner (indicating the poster's supposed past) clearly shows it used to advertise 'Soccer Practice'. A small slip up like that is slightly grating, and may make readers of the poster less likely to believe and act upon the message the poster portrays.
I would like to make use of the positioning of text in my work, because I find the formation of the text into the recycle arrow really inventive and clever.


I have learned a lot from these reviews. I already had several ideas for what I would like to do in my own work, but my reviews definitely gave me more feedback on what I should and shouldn't do to make my poster effective and interesting to look at. The reviews have helped me pinpoint aspects of design that grab attention and leave an impact on the people who view them, and this will help me create a poster which is informative, persuasive and interesting to look at.
My next step in the design process will be to draw some sketches and concepts for the design of my poster. I will begin to focus on the elements of design I intend to use. I will also start my sketches of small electrical goods which I will later work from to create my poster.


  1. thanks for these poster reviews :D. its pretty much what im working on at the moment and they've helped loads.


  2. May I use one of your posters for our recycling center at church?

    Julia Meritt

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