White Flag Campaigns
A White Flag Campaign involves hanging white cotton flags in front of neighbourhood houses over a period of time to allow them to collect airborne dust, soot and other particulate pollution. This technique provides a very visible symbol of how particulate pollution is covering homes with and filling the air we breathe. A White Flag Campaign can help engage the public, attract attention of the media and the company, and build evidence to show that local pollution is affecting the quality of life for community members.
Tip: Environment Hamilton created a guide, How To Run a White Flag Campaign, that covers how to prepare for, launch, run and share the results of a white flag monitoring campaign.
To bring attention to the high levels of particulate matter in the neighbourhoods surrounding ArcelorMittal-Dofasco, Environment Hamilton hung over 400 north end homes hang white flags on their properties in the summer of 2010. After only two months of hanging, the airborne pollutants caused the flags to discolour – creating hues of brown, orange, yellow, and even pink.
The dirty flags were then tested (by a McMaster University professor and the Ministry of Environment) and sewn together street-by-street to create a strong visual of the area’s pollution patterns. As a result, neighbours were able to visually gauge the amount of particulate matter impacting the neighbourhood, determine that coal dust from the company was in fact entering the community, gain media coverage to bring attention to the issue, and empower residents with an easy and affordable method to monitor air quality.
- Hamilton Spectator – 2010-07-02 – White flags key to clean-air campaign
- Hamilton Spectator – 2010-09-21 – Flags turn grimy in northeast Hamilton air
- Hamilton Spectator – 2010-09-22 – Filthy flags put air under microscope
- StoneyCreekNews – 2010-09-30 – Dirty flags prompt calls for air pollution clampdown
Resources, Materials, and Results
- How To Run a White Flag Campaign
- Environment Hamilton – White Flag Handbook (distributed door to door)
- Environment Hamilton – White Flag Campaign Results
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