Concretizing Our Abstract Ideas of Real Garbage, Real Toxins and Real Polluters

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Thanks to the friend who sent me a link to the work of Chris Jordan, an artist whose photography uses garbage, toxins, pollutants and major sources of all the above so that we can see how much of this stuff there is mucking up our planet. I suggest you click on the links to Intolerable Beauty, which is photos of things like crushed cars, discarded cell phones and obsolete circuit boards, as well as the raw materials we need to build our homes and pave our streets, etc; and Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait (love that title!), which includes statistics to help the viewer understand just how much we throw away, how many children don't have health care, how many people die of smoking-related illnesses each year, etc.

It's very disturbing, the fact that we are able to think of garbage in terms of the few plastic bags we take home from the grocery store every few days and don't recycle, or the single broken dvd player we throw out and replace after a few years, because we don't think about how many other people are doing the exact same thing at the exact same intervals. Jordan's work makes it much harder to think in those narrow terms. After seeing these photographs, I will do my best from here on out to never again drink a beverage sold in a plastic bottle.

On Bill Moyer's Journal you can also watch a video (it's actually a series of stills with accompanying narration, but we call that a video, don't we?) about the photographs Jordan took after the waters receded from New Orleans, which have been collected in the book In Katrina's Wake.

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It can be overwhelming to think about this. My husband and I have picked a couple of things to do to reduce our garbage production, and when this becomes second nature we'll pick something else and work on that.

Since my husband read the story about the giant island of floating plastic in the Pacific, we don't use plastic bags any more, and try to not get things in plastic bottles. When I buy something, I present my cloth bag to the cashier and say "we're on a no-plastic-bag campaign." The reaction has been invariably positive -- especially when my husband regales them with the tale of the plastic island.

Just yesterday I heard someone refer to the plastic grocery bag as the "unofficial state flower of Wyoming." So people know there's a problem -- now let's get them to do something about it.

We're trying to cut down on the plastic, unnecessary packaging and waste, too.

I'm collecting ideas for doing a more environmentally friendly Christmas this year. Seems like a good place to start.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on November 13, 2007 10:07 AM.

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