A 71-year-old man has won the Changhua County Environmental Protection Bureau’s “Off with Advertisements” campaign.
Chang Tieh-feng (張鐵峰) singlehandedly removed 15 percent — or 1.37 tonnes — of the 9 tonnes of illegal advertisements collected during the drive, which began last year, earning NT$13,700 worth of FamilyMart coupons.
The Changhua City resident said that advertisements posted on telephone poles and trees cluttered the streets and were a nuisance.
He said he began removing the illegal ads he saw four years ago, and taking them down has become more of a habit than a conscious action.
He felt “wrong” if he did not remove some ads every day, Chang said.
Most illegal ads are posted at night, especially at the weekends, so he began going out at night to remove the ads almost as soon as they were put up.
Drawing on his childhood experience of snatching fruit out of trees, Chang tied a saw on his walking stick to use it on ads that were hung higher than he could reach with just his arms.
It only takes a few seconds to saw through the wires holding the ads in place, he said.
“On an average night, I can remove about 30kg of illegally placed ads,” Chang said, adding that the most he collected in one day was more than 50kg.
Chang said he will continue to help rid the city’s streets of illegal ads. After all, his efforts help his family save some money on daily necessities, he joked, referring to the coupons he received from the bureau.
Bureau Director Liu Yu-ping (劉玉平) said the agency could hire temporary workers for NT$1,000 a day to remove the ads, with the workers collecting an average of 30kg of ads per person.
However, the Off with Advertisements campaign saved the county money in the long run, because it gave volunteer collectors NT$300 worth of coupons for every 30kg of ads they collected, Liu said.
This is equal to saving two-thirds of the cost of hiring a daily temporary worker.
The campaign was scheduled to end last month, but it has proved such a success the bureau has decided to continue it.
It may expand the program by increasing the number of convenience store chains involved, and perhaps getting some supermarkets to sign on, the bureau said.
Only FamilyMart convenience stores are involved at present, the director said.