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Environmental Art: Running the Numbers

No one captures the excesses of western society as vividly as world-renowned photographer and environmental activist Chris Jordan. This lawyer turned artist documents the debris of North American culture with intricate work detailing our mountains of waste. His images are beautiful and staggering, giving the viewer pause at the wastefulness of modern life.

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How much waste do you personally add to landfills every year?

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Oil Barrels, 2008

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Partial zoom

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Detail at actual print size

Depicts 28,000 42-gallon barrels, the amount of oil consumed in the U.S. every two minutes
(equal to the flow of a medium-sized river).

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Cell Phones, 2007

60×100″

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Partial zoom

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Detail at actual print size

Depicts 426,000 cell phones, equal to the number of cell phones retired in the U.S. every day.

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Light Bulbs, 2008

72×96″

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Partial zoom

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Zoomed further

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Detail at actual print size

(a giant hot-air balloon festival in outer space!)

 Depicts 320,000 lightbulbs, equal to the number of kilowatt hours of electricity wasted in the U.S. every minute from inefficient residential electricity usage.

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Cans Seurat, 2007

60×92″

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Partial zoom

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Detail at actual print size

Depicts 106,000 aluminum cans,

the number used in the U.S. every 30 seconds.

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Plastic Bottles, 2007

 60×120″

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Partial zoom

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Detail at actual print size

Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles,

the number used in the U.S. every five minutes.

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Plastic Cups, 2008

60×90″

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Partial zoom

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Detail at actual print size

Depicts one million plastic cups,

the number used on airline flights in the U.S. every six hours.

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Tuna, 2009

64×115″
This image is made from 19 original watercolour
paintings by Sarah Waller

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Partial zoom

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Zoomed further

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Detail at actual print size

This image depicts 20,500 tuna, the average number of tuna

fished from the world’s oceans every 15 minutes.

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Energizer, 2007

60×99″

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Partial zoom

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Detail at actual print size

Depicts 170,000 disposable batteries, equal to 15 minutes of Energizer battery production. If 170,000 batteries were depicted at their real size, the print would need to be 26×43 feet, as shown here.

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Shark Teeth, 2009

64×94″

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This is a partial zoom

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This image depicts 270,000 fossilized shark teeth, equal to the estimated number of sharks killed around the world every day for their fins.