Understanding The Environmental Impact of Signs

When it comes to designing and installing your business signs, you may not necessarily consider the environmental impact they have. While increased visibility, materials and colours that suit your brand and lighting that showcases your signs at all times can help your business, you may be negatively impacting the environment without realising. 

Understanding the impact your signs could be having on the environment and what alternatives are available could help you to reduce the negative impact they have and support your business in an environmentally friendly way. 

What impact do signs have on the environment?

The impact your signs can have on the environment will depend on the type of signs you use, where your business is located, how many signs you have and other factors. 

However, there are several negative effects that traditional signage and new digital signage have.

Light pollution

Lit signs contribute to a form of light pollution called sky glow. As well as making it hard to see the night sky, especially in urban areas, light pollution has also been found to affect animal behaviour and human health. 

Some lit signs are worse than others when it comes to light pollution, with digital billboards being the worse offenders. Brightness standards for digital billboards are different from traditional signs and billboards so they can be much brighter. This means they can cause a lot more glare at night while also being incredibly bright during the day. 

Energy consumption

While lights are an important part of ensuring your signs can be seen to raise brand awareness and attract footfall, they also use a lot of energy. Some types of lighting – generally older options – use a lot of energy to run, which can mean that your signs are expensive to light up but are also drawing a lot of power. 


Not all the materials that are used in the manufacturing of signs are sustainable or recyclable, which means that they can impact the environment in several ways. 

Some materials create a lot of waste during their production or use a lot of water to create. Similarly, many materials are not biodegradable so they will continue to impact the environment even when they are no longer in use. 

How can you reduce the environmental impact of signs?

Not all signs affect the environment in the same way, which is why it’s a good idea to look at the different options available and how they differ when it comes to environmental impact. 

There are several ways we can help you design signs that don’t have such a negative effect on the environment and our team here at GeeTee are ready to talk you through them. 

Options can include:

Energy-efficient lighting

Some forms of lighting for signs are much more energy-efficient than others. This means they use less power and will be cheaper for you to run. 

LEDs tend to use a lot less electricity than traditional lighting types. For example, an LED neon sign could use only 15-20% of the energy that a traditional neon light would use, making them cheaper and more efficient. Incandescent and fluorescent lights will also use more energy to run. 

Alternative energy

You can look at options for running your signs on alternative energy, such as solar power, to reduce their environmental impact. While installing solar panels will be an increased up-front cost, overall, they will reduce your energy bills and help to power your business. 

If you can’t install an alternative energy source to run your signs, switching to a green, sustainable energy provider will help limit the negative impact of your signs. 

Reducing light pollution

Not only can LEDs reduce energy use, but they can also maintain the visibility of your sign but reduce luminance which can contribute to light pollution. Using warm coloured lights is also the best option as this will further reduce additional glare without negatively impacting sign visibility. 

The way signs are lit can also help to reduce light pollution, with backlighting being a great option. In some cases, you may also want to utilise shielding, which will reduce the impact of the lights used in your signage. 

Sustainable materials

The materials your signs are made of can also have an impact on the environment, so it is worth considering which material is best. Ideally, you want a material with little waste during manufacturing, that will be durable and that could be recycled rather than thrown in landfill. 

Wood, aluminium and polypropylene are just examples of environmentally friendly materials that can be used to make signs. The industry is also developing more materials and manufacturing methods that reduce waste to reduce the negative impact sign materials have on the environment.