Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My morning activity, something for you to noodle on.

This morning I got up briiiiight and early, actually it was dark. I was at my office in the parking lot by 6:15am. One of my co-workers and I went to San Francisco for a breakfast event put on by a design organization we are members of.

The keynote speaker was a guy named Chris Jordan. He is a photographer that started out as a lawyer. He tells the story of how he got to be a photographer from being a lawyer but I won't bore you with that right now.

He does "Portraits of American Consumption." It was really cool and eye opening. Some examples of his work include photos of plastic bottles, paper grocery bags, and cell phones to name a few. He takes those objects and takes a controlled photo of a defined number of them. He then uses Photoshop to join that photograph to another one of the same number of objects and on and on until he has one that is of for example the number of paper bags this country uses in 5 minutes. Or of the number of cell phones that are thrown away every day and so on and so forth. One of them that was particularly staggering was the amount of paper used in offices every day across the country. It was taller than the space needle in Seattle and twice as long.
His point is that we as Americans have become so numb to these types of staggering numbers that they just don't affect us anymore. Hearing the numbers doesn't faze us and if it did we wouldn't know what to do about it anyways. By showing visuals of these objects we get a better idea of how much crap is being used and thrown into a landfill every day.

Something to think about...

How often do you drink a can of soda? Do you know what it took for that can of soda to get to you? How many finite resources it took? If the can is made from virgin aluminum that aluminum had to be mined from somewhere, most likely in a place where the natural ecosystem has been disturbed by it. Then that virgin aluminum had to be send somewhere to be processed into a substance suitable to hold a beverage for human consumption. Then it got shipped somewhere else to become a can, and so on and so forth. Then when it eventually holds a soda it gets shipped from the plant it comes from to places all over the country and earth. Then it gets refrigerated at the store, then it has to travel from the store to your house or office where it also has to get refrigerated. The finally it gets to the consumer where it takes 5 minutes or so for the consumer to drink the beverage then it becomes trash or hopefully recycling. What a long process for something that takes barely any time to actually get used. How much gas and energy was used to make, transport and refrigerate that can of soda that took you a whopping 5 minutes to drink.
It takes less time, resources and money to turn a recycled aluminum can back into a can than it does to make a virgin one. If you must use these resources, please recycle.

Now that you have thought about the soda can, apply this process and principle to the other disposable things you use on a daily basis. It's scary, huh.

These are paper grocery bags. I can't remember the amount of them that this is, but isn't it striking how he made them look like trees...really makes you think, huh.


Alison & Brandyn said...

I've heard about this artist. VERY interesting. And a good reminder/message.

greenEm said...

Yes- I have studied this photographer as well. I am glad you got to hear him speak about his art