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Converse sponsors giant 'smog-eating' mural with air purification power of 780 trees

The mural was created using photocatalytic paints, the active component of which has the ability to turn pollutants and harmful compounds into harmless nitrates and carbonates.

Converse sponsors giant 'smog-eating' mural with air purification power of 780 trees
Cover Image Source: Converse

While our undivided attention has been on the Coronavirus pandemic for the better part of this year, the American shoe company Converse has been holding the fort in the fight against climate change. The company has launched a collaborative project with artists in 13 cities across the world to create giant murals made of photocatalytic, smog-eating paint. The project, dubbed Converse City Forests, has seen two completed morals so far: one in Bangkok, Thailand, and the other in Warsaw, Poland. According to CNN, the special kind of paint used to create the stunning murals is said to have air cleaning properties.


"This technology uses light energy to break down noxious air pollutants and convert them into harmless substances," Converse said in a statement. "Any surface coated with this paint becomes an active air-purifying surface that helps protect people from harmful gases." The mural in Bangkok was the collaborative effort of artists Teerayut Puechpen and Sorravis Prakong, who created a piece featuring two hands at the center. This is meant as a symbol of unity, said Converse, explaining that aside from beautifying the city, the mural has the environmental impact of planting 150 trees.


Meanwhile, the mural in Warsaw features the words "Create Together For Tomorrow" in the midst of flowers with smiley faces and colorful buildings. It was painted by landscape architect and graphic designer Dawid Ryski in collaboration with Maciek Polak, an illustrator, muralist, and graphic designer from the small town of Blachownia. According to Converse, speaking of the project, Ryski—whose style is characterized by geometry, pure forms, and architectural elements—called attention to visual and air pollution in cities. "In my dream future city billboards would disappear, and everybody here would switch from cars to bicycles," he said.


"I tried to make sure that these were actually the buildings of the future—as you can see, they are free from billboards—and that [Polak] could fit in his plants beautifully," Ryski explained. As for Polak, whose raw style originated from his passion for skateboarding and graffiti, he chose to incorporate vegetation in the mural. "I think that nature is a perfect inspiration for an artist's work because it has endless possibilities in terms of shapes, colors, and forms," he said. Looking at the finished mural, Ryski said: "My vision of a better future was well reflected on our project. I see it as a symbiosis of the city and nature, complementing each other perfectly."


"In my opinion, the final appearance of the mural is delightful," chimed Polak, agreeing with his collaborator. "By painting a wall next to the busy Politechnika metro station, Dawid and Maciek helped plant the equivalent of 780 trees, or 16 soccer fields, a symbol of the air-cleaning power of the mural. Converse believes it has an opportunity to renew its impact by creating fresh air in its communities through Converse City Forests," the brand said on its website.


"Pollution levels have dropped in many cities around the world as people are no longer commuting as much," a spokesman for Converse told The First News. "Companies are working slower, and for the time being everything has slowed down. At Converse, we saw this as an opportunity to speak up and help produce fresh air through painting murals. Furthermore, we felt it was a good way to reunite communities as they return to normal life after such a long period of isolation." As per the publication, the active component in photocatalytic paints—titanium dioxide—has the ability to turn pollutants and harmful compounds into harmless nitrates and carbonates. Upon completion of Converse City Forests in Sydney, Manila, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Belgrade, Lima, Santiago, Johannesburg, Melbourne, Bogota, and Panama City, the project will have the overall impact of planting 3000 trees.


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