Every year, Americans generate about 230 million tons of trash or 4.6 lbs per person each day. Less than one-quarter of it is recycled; the rest is incinerated or buried in landfills.
This causes severe environmental, economic and public health issues.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many of the country's landfills have been closed because they were full or carried contaminating groundwater. The water that flows beneath these deep holes is our drinking water. Once groundwater is polluted with toxins, it is very expensive and difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to clean it up.
A bulk of the trash we generate is burned, and while this is used to create energy, it poisons the environment.
A Recent Eye Opener: Our Trash Crippled The MH370 Search
Photographer Gregg Segal decided to shed light on this issue and make people reflect on it. He felt the immensity of the issue was hard to portray, as an average individual is unable to relate to the huge amount of trash we produce.
To make the gravity of the issue hit home, Segal asked friends, neighbors, and strangers to lie down in a week’s worth of trash they had produced.
The result, as he had hoped, is eye opening:
"'7 Days of Garbage' is a series of portraits of friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances with the garbage they accumulate in the course of a week. Subjects are photographed surrounded by their trash in a setting that is part nest, part archeological record. We’ve made our bed and in it we lie,” says Segal.
A Great Example: Garbage To Gold: Captivating Art Appears From Trash Heap
"I shot from above to make it very clinical and clean and graphic. It’s kind of a nest, a bed we’re lying in with all this stuff, forcing us to reconcile what we’re producing, which hopefully causes some people to think a little bit more about what they’re consuming,” he said in an interview.