Filed under: Energy + Climate, Food + Health, J500 Week 8, Nature + Travel, Society + Media | Tags: banana industry, Ben Pirotte, biodiversity, Costa Rica, food, photography, sustainable travel, travel
To fight the harsh Kansas winter, my family decided to pack up and leave for sunny, warm Costa Rica. Known around the world as an eco-paradise, this tiny, Central American country has a lot to protect.
Fresh food, especially fruit, is an important part of Costa Rican’s “Pura” lifestyle. At the hotel, shrimp cocktail fills a papaya bowl. The shrimp was caught off Costa Rica’s coast, and the papaya was also grown nearby. Talk about eating local! As a plus for living in this tropical environment, locals pay significantly less for their products. A pound of bananas at a local market only cost 19 colones (that’s only 3 cents!), compared to the cost in the US of an average around 30-40 cents. However, is that the true cost of a banana? Unsustainable practices in Costa Rica’s banana industry include heavy use of pesticides, deforestation, and improper treatment of many banana harvesters.
Tourism is booming in Costa Rica, which claims to be one of the most eco-friendly tourist destinations in the world. However, places like Costa Rica’s North Pacific coast, in the state of Guanacaste, are sometimes trading tourist dollars for safe environmental practices, as resorts and the winter homes of rich migratory North American retirees flood the landscape.
Biodiversity is an incredibly important part of Costa Rica.
Comparable to the size of West Virginia, this small tropical country contains five percent of all of earth’s species. However, pressures from population growth and development from tourism are a constant threat to Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife.
While there, I learned this tiny country is a big player in environmental sustainability, despite its miniscule size. However, no country is perfect, and Costa Rica is no exception. With the tourism industry booming, and a global desire for a tasty banana, this Central American country has to deal with some difficult choices.
Photos and text by Ben Pirotte
Filed under: Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: landfill, mass consumption, photography, Topeka, waste
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
Filed under: Nature + Travel, Society + Media | Tags: ansel adams, environmental, green, king's river, photography, Sierra Club
Who is the greatest environmental photographer in this history of the environment and photography?
Funny you should ask—considering I just spent my morning researching that exact topic.
Ansel Adams would be your man. I know, I never thought of it before now, either. Until now, I just thought he made pretty outdoor pictures that people put in their offices when they didn’t know much about art.
Now, I know you instantly scanned through your mental environmental photographer Rolodex and picked out your favorite modern environmental photog but I seriously doubt they hold a CFL to Adams’ efforts.
After years of photographing nature, Adams became so inspired that he became a full-blown environmental advocate, according to this essay by Peter Barr. He joined the Sierra Club board of directors, he lobbied congress for environmental aid in King’s River Canyon, and he was assigned to photograph national parks by the Department of Interior (however, this project quickly ended because of WWII). Adams personally met with LBJ, Johnson, Ford, and Carter to discuss environmental policy. He was also awarded the Conservation Service Award by the Interior Department and recieved a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his environmental efforts. Thats what I call a hard-working advocate.
And just look at the man’s stuff:
Ansel Adams. Bridveil Fall. Yosemite, 1967
Waterfall: “I am nature. Hear me roar. RAAGH!”
Ansel Adams. Snake River, Grand Tetons, 1942
Mountain: “I see you eyeing me. I will destroy you. Do not screw with me.
“The photographer showed Americans the beauty of nature. But he also put alot of American problems in perspective.
Ansel Adams. Freeway Interchange, Los Angeles, 1967
This photograph was taken in 1967—an era when a lot of people (aka hippies) were complaining about what was wrong with the world, while driving around in psychadelic buses powered by fossil fuels and love.
It is as if Adams was telling us “Hey guys, take a step back and look at all this progress. Maybe we need to slow down and meditate on this for a while. I mean, check this other picture. Goodness, are those some pretty trees or what?”
You know, come to think of it, I’m going to have to get me an Ansel Adams for my office. Maybe it’ll make me feel like I’m working amidst nature