Story by Lyndsay Frehner
Everyday there are approximately 130 million phones that are thrown away. In five hours, one million plastic cups are used on airline flights. Every hour, roughly 2.4 million pounds of plastic are flowing from rivers into the oceans of the world.
In a recent lecture at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts on Dec. 1, 2011, Chris Jordan presented photographs on the impacts of mass consumption.
Jordan showed many pictures depicting the large volumes of waste that humans produce every day. There is absolutely now boundary to how much people actually throw away. “Where is the Grand Canyon of our waste?” said Jordan.
The amount of garbage that is thrown away is innumerable. As human beings, “we can only comprehend small numbers,” said Jordan.
Resulting from all the waste that is produced there is a toll on the environment and its surrounding areas.
Midway Island is one of the places that have been affected. Midway Island is out in the Pacific Ocean and thousands of miles from the closest land. One of the native birds is the albatross. These albatrosses, however, are dying.
For the albatross, their main food source is fish from the ocean. Unfortunately they can’t differentiate between plastic and fish. This causes the birds to eat what the humans throw away. With the plastic inside their stomachs, they slowly die of starvation or dehydration.
These birds are dying because of human waste. Humans use multiple objects such as: plastic, cell phones, paper bags, toothbrushes, lighters and even cars. When thrown away, the objects get put into the garbage or even into a river or the street. The problem with throwing garbage into water sources is that it will eventually end up in the ocean.
Jordan has begun documenting these effects on Midway Island. From one of his personal experiences, Jordan witnessed a small bird slowly dying. It was hard for him to not feel sorry for the creature. How could one not feel sympathetic?
As a mentor to Jordan, Terry Tempest Williams said, “You never get over grief. You need to learn to embrace it and come to love it.” This was in response to his question on how to cope with the effects humans are having upon the small habitat of Midway Island.
“If we’re terrified of grief, we’re terrified of silence,” said Williams. One must learn to feel sorrow for their actions, but not be afraid to speak out. There are changes that need to be made.
Hannah Culbertson, certified nursing assistant, said “Pretty soon the future generations will be blaming their president for this problem when it’s really our fault right now. We know how to change, but we’re not doing it.”
Jordan has documented these dying and decaying birds so as to help the citizens of the world become more aware of what is going on. There is an intense need for change.
“Think about the relationship between the one and the world. I really don’t make a difference because I’m one in seven million,” said Jordan. There is nothing more disappointing than seeing the effects of a decision and knowing there isn’t much to do.
“How do we bare the truths of the times we live in?” asked Jordan. As a society, working together is an integral part of saving the earth and its inhabitants. Recycle the 2.4 million pounds of plastic instead of watching it float away to the ocean.
For more information on these bodies of work or Chris Jordan, please visit http://www.chrisjordan.com.