TAKING THE LID OFF AMERICA’S TRASH CANS: GLAD UNCOVERS COUNTRY’S WASTE HABITS WITH PHOTOJOURNALIST PETER MENZEL

Developed in partnership with Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit that builds and sustains vibrant communities, the site encourages you to take a quiz to determine what type of waste manager you are and offers tips to help reduce waste at home.

On average, Americans send about half of their waste to landfill. Focused on spreading awareness about this eye-opening issue, The Glad Products Company sponsored award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio’s newest photo series, a project called “Waste in Focus,” that takes a real life, moment-in-time look at what eight families around the country are recycling, composting and sending to landfill in a recent week.

The families, each with four members, live in San Francisco, Atlanta, Phoenix and New York City, and are of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Working with a precise set of instructions, but asked not to change their usual waste management habits, each of the eight families saved one week’s worth of household trash and recycling. D’Aluisio and Menzel then sorted, weighed, cataloged and cleaned the waste, as well as participated in a consultation with regional waste managers to ensure accuracy in item placement for the resulting portraits.

With consistency in each photo – recycling on one side and landfill trash on the other – the team independently developed data and stories to accompany each photo. “After more than 40 years as a photojournalist, I’m extremely conscious of the story that the images I capture are telling and this project was no different,” said Peter Menzel, photojournalist and co-author, with Faith D’Aluisio, of the award winning book – Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. “Faith and I have wanted to visually tell a story about waste in our consumer society for many years and we were intrigued when Glad came to us with an offer to sponsor this public service campaign. This is a great way to start a conversation about trash literacy, and how the U.S. can better handle its waste.”

Family 1: Bonnie and George Cooke of Atlanta, Georgia, with their children Kyle, 16, and Tristan, 18, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items (and food scraps fed to their chickens) are on the left-hand side of the photo, and items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 61 lb. Fifty-six percent of it (34 lb) was landfill and forty four percent of it was recyclables and food scraps (27 lb).

Waste in Focus
Bonnie and George Cooke of Atlanta, Georgia,

Family 2: Jacqueline and Kenneth Griffin Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia, with their children Kenneth “Tre” Griffin III, 9, and Antonio, 7, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 41.1 lb. Seventy-five percent of it (31 lb) was landfill and twenty five percent of it was recyclables (10.1 lb).

 Jacqueline and Kenneth Griffin Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia
Jacqueline and Kenneth Griffin Jr. of Atlanta, Georgia

Family 3: Yuliya Radchenko and Walid Halabi of NYC, New York, with their children Zacharia, 7, and Khalid, 11, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 21 lb. Fifty-two percent of it (10.9 lb) was landfill and fourty-eight percent of it was recyclables (10.1 lb).

Yuliya Radchenko and Walid Halabi of NYC, New York,
Yuliya Radchenko and Walid Halabi of NYC, New York,

Family 4: Charlene Wimms and Donell Brant of NYC, New York,
with their children Darius Brant, 9, and Terrard Wimms, 16, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in February. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 28.9 lb. Seventy-nine percent of it (22.9 lb) was landfill and twenty-one percent of it was recyclables (6 lb).

Charlene Wimms and Donell Brant of NYC, New York,
Charlene Wimms and Donell Brant of NYC, New York,

Family 5: Jana and Kelly Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona, with their children Kayla, 16, and Evan, 14, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in December. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 38.9 lb. Seventy-one percent of it (27.6 lb) was landfill and twenty nine percent was recyclables (11.3 lb).

Jana and Kelly Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona,
Jana and Kelly Anderson of Phoenix, Arizona,

Family 6: Esther and Viliulfo Zepeda of Phoenix, Arizona, with their children Amy, 15, and Jessica, 18, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables and landfill trash, in December. Recyclable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 36.3 lb. Eighty percent (28.9 lb) was landfill and twenty percent was recyclables (7.4 lb).

 Esther and Viliulfo Zepeda of Phoenix, Arizona,
Esther and Viliulfo Zepeda of Phoenix, Arizona,

Family 7: Lisa and Phil Burnham of San Francisco, California, with their children Tristan, 15, and Elouise, 10, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables, compostables, and landfill trash, in January. Recyclable and compostable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 33 lb. Eleven percent (3.7 lb) was landfill and eighty nine percent was recyclables and compostables (25.3 lb).

Lisa and Phil Burnham of San Francisco, California,
Lisa and Phil Burnham of San Francisco, California,

Family 8: Monica McCrary and Mike Rao of San Francisco, California, with their children Jared Rao, 13, and Braeden Rao, 10, surrounded by a week’s worth of their recyclables, compostables, and landfill trash, in January. Recyclable and compostable items are on the left-hand side of the photo. Items destined for landfill are to the right. Their total household waste for this week was 30.4 lb. Seven percent (2.1 lb) was landfill and ninety three percent was recyclables and compostables (28.3 lb).

Monica McCrary and Mike Rao of San Francisco, California,
Monica McCrary and Mike Rao of San Francisco, California,

“As a category leader, Glad has a long history of making innovative products that help consumers waste less and help lessen the company’s own environmental impact, as well as spreading awareness of waste reduction,” said Scott Lazarczyk, marketing director, The Glad Products Company. “In support of the Environmental Protection Agency’s goal to divert 80 percent of waste from landfills by 2020, Glad is sponsoring this photographic series as one of many ways to help educate consumers about the importance of reaching this goal.”

Helping to Provide a Solution
The Glad Products Company recognizes the role its products play in helping consumers waste less and is on a mission to do its part to help consumers learn more about waste reduction. The following tips are a good place to start:

1. Most composting involves waiting for organic materials to aerobically decompose, but coffee grounds and eggshells can be sprinkled in your garden immediately.

2. Some fruits, like apples and tomatoes give off natural gases that speed up spoilage of other produce. Store them separately and keep vegetables apart from fruits to reduce food waste.

3. Some fruits and veggies like bananas and potatoes aren’t fridge-friendly. Keep these in a dry, cool place instead.

4. In addition to newspaper, most communities accept corrugated cardboard and tissue boxes. Some even accept catalogues and phone books.

5. Salsa and peanut butter jars are two examples of reusable containers for food storage. And when it’s time to replace them, they’re recyclable.

Visit WasteinFocus.com to read the families full stories. Developed in partnership with Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit that builds and sustains vibrant communities, the site encourages you to take a quiz to determine what type of waste manager you are and offers tips to help reduce waste at home.

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