Zhang Lingling, founder of a recycling non-profit, has come up with a unique way of spreading awareness about China’s smog crisis.

We’ve seen smog wedding dresses, smog mask artwork and even jewelry. Now one woman from Shanghai has taken it a step further and created the world’s first smog ‘perfume.’

Images of northern China’s infamous smog are so ubiquitous that they’re no longer shocking. Photos of sick children in air pollution masks and famous landmarks obscured by haze flood our social media feeds whenever a city is besieged by an ‘Airpocalypse'.


But when Zhang Lingling spoke to people who live in smog-hit areas, they talked about what no photographer could ever capture- the pungent, sulphurous stench of China’s turbid haze.

“The idea was simply inspired by Shanghai’s pollution... we want to raise public awareness in an artistic way”

She collaborated with a perfume maker friend of hers and they worked together to capture the heady mix of tar, sulphur and dust that makes up the scent of their perfume.

They then took to the streets of Shanghai to test it out on the unsuspecting public.


Descriptions of the perfume from Zhang Lingling’s test audience ranged from ‘rotten eggs’ to ‘burning alcohol’


“We want to remind people that the pollution problem is always present” Zhang said

Zhang Lingling’s journey as an environmentalist began with a scenario that is unfortunately all too common for many of China’s parents- her young son fell sick, due to the city’s worsening pollution.

She wanted to find a way to contribute to protecting the planet. This inspired her to quit her job and start BlueSky4Children- a nonprofit that fights overconsumption by recycling clothes and sending them to some of China’s poorest regions.


“It’s a convenient environmental protection platform for people to get involved in…to solve pollution, the key is to get people to participate.”



 “We’re aware that we have a limited influence. But if we can reach the people around us, we hope it can create a butterfly effect.”

Anna McGurk is a content writer for Greenpeace East Asia