Saturday, March 11, 2017

Garbology Revisited

Garbage isn't sexy, but you certainly can learn a lot from it.

One go-to place for students to learn is My Garbology. The website opens with a clickable kid-sized quiz filled with an assortment of animated fun facts. Along the way, you need to sort out where the banana, the plastic bottle, and more should be deposited: compost, reuse, recycle, or landfill. Many of those facts and figures you click upon are startling in their statistics. Definitely good food for thought, and you will encounter a challenge or two along the way. There are also links to parents, students, and teachers, as well as many other resources on their site.

Another place to take notice of our over-consumption & garbage is the arts. Namely, the photography of Gregg Segal.  In his bio, Gregg details how he was taking pictures of his neighbor's garbage with his new camera at the age of 11. Early on, he had a vision of how garbage had an artistic quality about it. At the very least, he knew photography could capture a story worth telling, revealing volumes about our cultural values and beliefs. His work has been featured in many well-known publications

Some of his garbage/over-consumption series include:

7 Days of Garbage
Essential questions such as "where does the garbage go?" and "What happens when that space is maxed out?" were driving forces that led to this series of Gregg's. Especially when you consider that Joe "Average" American can self-generate approximately 29 pounds of garbage a week. Photographing this personalizes it and definitely brings the problem home. This series also brings home the idea that companies need to figure out a way to help with the excessiveness and build in their own circular construct of recycling to help the product go "cradle to grave"--from creation to safe and proper disposal.

The vision behind this series is to highlight "a world drowning in excess." Detritus is seen as an iconic embodiment of our role as wasteful over-consumers. That "more, more, more" mentality. From Segal's description on this series: "Wandering the Earth, no place left for him in landfills, this dustbin refugee exudes pathos and regret, a vibrant reminder of our willful abuse of the planet."

This series came out of his investigation of garbage. He started paying attention to both the food we were eating, and that which we were throwing away. Especially kids. Using food journals, he replicated the diets of kids, with some startling results. Makes you ponder as a parent what eating habits we are helping our kids build (and the associated health costs that processed foods lead to.)

To investigate some of his other thought-provoking series, check out his website!

Garbology definition from a google websearch; "My Garbology" image from; Greg Segal's images from his website:

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