I find it almost impossible to grasp just how much sheer stuff gets used up by our current society. It’s just one of those ideas hard to get your mind around, like how some numbers are too large for us to comprehend. Photographer Chris Jordan tries to help us grasp what we’re throwing away partly by taking pictures of vast piles of trash, but also by making detailed representations of waste. I found his stuff via a New Scientist slide show, but his website has some staggering photos of a mountain of sawdust, piles of dead cell phones, and other mind-numbing displays of waste. The whole thing makes me think of how Slumdog Millionaire and Wall-E manage to find beauty in piles of garbage. I recommend flipping through the whole slide show, but here’s one example, and then a close up of it.
There are 320,000 light bulbs in this image. This is equivalent to the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity wasted in the United States every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage, such as poor wiring and computers left in sleep mode.
And then the close up of the center: