7 Days of Garbage could have come off way preachier if the subjects weren’t photographed portrait-style—some of these folks are absolutely working the camera! Households and individuals were shot among a week’s worth of their own garbage, and while the results aren’t really a shock, the fakey-nature sets really drive home the reality that human beings don’t live “outside” of the environment—the trash has to actually go somewhere. As photographer Gregg Segal puts it, “We’ve made our bed and in it we lie.”
It’s worth pointing out that not all garbage is created equal. Biodegradable orange peels aren’t really comparable to a plastic milk jug or used diapers, the latter of which I notice to be conspicuously absent from the pictures featuring a sweet-faced infant or toddler. It’s quite possible those families do cloth diapering (or didn’t feel like bringing clean diapers to the shoot to represent the used ones), but it might be even more interesting to show the sheer bulk of disposable nappies required to keep a baby happy, healthy and clean.
The tragedy in all of this is the fact that our refuse output can’t be solved by conscientious consumerism. Reducing waste will require political intervention and modifying our manufacturing practices. Until that happens, we’re just going to be… kind of filthy. New Yorkers can check out 7 Days of Garbage at The Fence, in Brooklyn.
More people and their garbage after the jump…