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What It Looks Like To Not Throw Your Trash Out For A Week

How much do you throw away in seven days?

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Photographer Gregg Segal aims to highlight the global consumption crisis with his series 7 Days of Garbage.

He feels that most people don't realise how much they throw away, so he asked his friends and neighbours to save their garbage for one week. He then photographed them lying among it.

"With 7 Days of Garbage, I call attention to the problem by personalising it," Segal explains in an art statement. "I figured if I photographed friends, neighbours, and other acquaintances laying in a week’s worth of their garbage, they might consider their habits more deeply and maybe even make some changes in their routine."


Segal has said he has seen shock, despair, and recognition when people react to the series. "People see themselves in the portraits and recognise that they, too, produce a hell of a lot of garbage," he told Resource Magazine. "Several people and institutions in far-reaching places have wanted to replicate the project, photographing consumers in their own communities."


The thought of saving up garbage for a full week was daunting for some people, Segal says. "One mom emailed halfway through the seven days to say that her husband just couldn’t stand the stench of their Chinese leftovers any longer and dumped the trash she’d been saving.

"Others may have felt ashamed to put their garbage on display. One fellow showed up with tidy garbage; even his eggshells had been scrubbed clean. But there were others who bit the bullet and arrived with bags of messy food waste. One assistant gagged at a container of thick soup that looked like a milkshake but smelled like rotting chicken."


"It’s one thing to get a handful of people you photograph to consider their consumption habits more deeply," says Segal, "but can you get a whole lot of people to change – or at least think more deeply about what they use and throw away on a daily basis?"


Segal began researching how much garbage a person produces in terms of weight. "In Europe, it’s about 2 pounds per person a day while in the US, we each bag 4 pounds a day," he writes. "Despite producing more modest amounts of waste, Europeans felt the message of the pictures was more vital than Americans, who produce twice as much garbage. I suppose some don’t perceive we have a problem here."