J500 Media and the Environment

For the love of landfills by tylerw09
March 6, 2009, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , ,


I feel at home in a landfill. I love everything about it, all the different colors, textures, shapes and especially the smell. The smell that stays with you all day. The smell that gets on your clothes and your shoes and completely overwhelms you.

I love going to landfills because I can actually show people how awful they are. I could list staggering statistics like how Americans throw away around 40 billion bottles and soft drink cans and 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year, but I feel that these numbers can be expressed better in a visual way.





These photographs are from a project I did on mass consumption a few years ago. I tried to show the tremendous amount of waste and how are society makes these products readily available to consume and throw away. As has been said many times “away is a place” and this place is a landfill.

I am the youngest of 4 children, all boys. Most of my clothes are hand me downs, I’ve never really lived any other way. This is a good way to reuse old things, which is the second step to the good old phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle.” I reduce my wardrobe by not having many clothes in the first place, and donate all my clothes to goodwill to reuse them. Every American throws away over 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year, and this could be dramatically reduced if people shopped more at second hand stores or the goodwill and reused old clothes. The photographer Chris Jordan has also done some wonderful work on mass consumption.

I will continue to document the horror of landfills. If people see where “away” is then maybe they will start reusing things and think twice before throwing things out.


– Tyler Waugh

9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Your last photograph is pretty creepy. I think that you’re right, photographs are the way to go to get people to see vast quantities because the public often has a hard time wrapping its head around numbers.

Comment by meganr21

I love how the Merc offers products in bulk. I think that idea could be applied to everyday items, like house cleaners, shampoos and beauty products, and pharmaceuticals. We have to stop thinking of “disposable” as something efficient, modern, and convenient, but as something that is wasteful, wasteful, wasteful.

Comment by janiec52

I love this post, Tyler, and your photos are stellar! When I was a kid, I’d wear hand-me-downs almost exclusively; I’m still getting used to going out and buying my own clothing.

Also, I agree: it’s overwhelming to come face-to-face with the sheer mass of wasted material that our society pumps out every day. Was it in this class that we heard the story about the garbage boat that was stuck off one of the coasts because there was no place to unload the trash. For some reason that made a real impression on me. I don’t think I’ve ever spent a day at a landfill, like you have… maybe I should!

Comment by justinl7

Definitely a last photo. Great Job! I find it hard to believe that we used to dump our trash at sea. Going off Justin’s comment, nobody wants the trash and if you can put it somewhere that no one will notice (for a while), well then that will do I guess. Like New Jersey…

Comment by matthewtb

** Definitely a “creepy” last photo **

Comment by matthewtb

Janie: I agree that buying in bulk is a good idea, and I think that people should also reduce the quantity of products they use.

Comment by tylerw09

Great pictures, Tyler. After working on that waste story and finding out that 13,000 TONS of trash go into the landfill in Lawrence everyday…. it’s gross. The three Rs just aren’t complete with out reducing.

Comment by amandat09

This is a FANTASTIC post. Just what we should do with our posting– grab some attention!

Also, Janie: I totally agree with you! I have become really conscious about that. Ever since Simran showed us the honey packet she carries around I have been buying bulk honey from the mercantile. I also bought containers and instead of getting individual packs of salad dressing and raisins and even lotion (as well as other things) I have started bringing them in containers.

Comment by brennad87

I love the contrast between perfectly packaged, brightly lit products in the store, and crumbled and smashed up products that have been used and thrown away. Shows how much people appreciate wasteful items when they’re shiny and new, but how easily we can abandon them.

Comment by jessicasb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: