picturing some numbers


Want to see some really amazing photos? Check out this link, sent to me by a friend.

Here are a couple of numbers learned from this site:

  • 60,000 (The number of plastic shopping bags used in the U.S. every 5 seconds)
  • 1,140,000 (The number of brown paper grocery bags used in the U.S. every hour)

The numbers are staggering, but abstract.

Photographer Chris Jordan has taken numbers like these, and created large-scale works of art that really show the numbers. To give us the sense of the scale of 60,000 plastic bags.

You really need to see the photos to get a sense of them. So, come on. Click on the link

11 thoughts on “picturing some numbers

  1. ok, ok, I’m getting one of those reuseable bags, stat! Well, maybe not stat, but I’ll add it to the to-do list. Seriously, I’m a huge offender in the bag department. I trot across the street for groceries almost every day, and they often break my purchase up into two or three bags, which they then double bag. I would be swimming in bags if I didn’t toss them, and I guess that’s the whole point- a landfill somewhere is swimming in my bags. They don’t just disappear.

    On an entirely different note, the impact of the visuals reminded me of some of the displays at Auschwitz, which I visited in 96. Apparently personal effects were saved, such that the museum is able to fill entire rooms, 5-6 feet deep with things like eyeglasses, shoes, or suitcases. It really gives you a sense of the scale of the tragedy, while at the same time emphasizing the personal. The eyeglasses got to me the most, for some reason. So yeah.. a visual can definitely be more powerful than just a number.

  2. This is quite visually amazing, and a bit depressing. 426,000 cell phones ‘retired’ every day? that’s completely beyond belief.
    I didn’t notice it the first time, but the logo on the Denali is changed to ‘Denial’ in all but the white squares.

  3. bs-
    I’m glad you’re giving the bag thing some thought. Using reusable bags is actually quite painless.
    As for the Auschwitz display, that sounds incredibly powerful. Just numbing.

    Jangari-
    Hey, where’s your ŋ?
    Yes, depressing indeed. It is really hard to imagine. But then again, people keep buying cell phones in droves, and most people upgrade every 2 years.
    And yeah, I saw the Denali picture title is “Denali Denial.” Clever, isn’t it? I’m also pretty sure the image is of Mt. McKinley, which is located in Denali National Park in Alaska.

  4. Hehe,
    I had an engmectomy. Too many people had issues with it, calling me Janari, Janjari, Janyari, etc. Just easier to use the digraph.

    Re: reusable bags, opt for some natural fibre as opposed to those plastic-like material bags like this. Each one of those bags contains the same amount of plastic as about 150 traditional plastic bags, so they’re only better if you use each on 150 times, which, in my experience, is unlikely.

  5. Woooaah. And (some) people say that contemporary art can’t be awe-inspiring and make statements…

    Re bs and the bags for groceries: Maybe one partial solution is to bring your own bags to the grocery store and ask for your groceries to be bagged in those? Also, places like used bookstores often welcome bag donations. This way, you can help get the bags re-used rather than simply tossing them away.

  6. I don’t know how widespread this is, but when shops/stores in Australia get change from banks, it often comes in little snap-lock bags (unless it has come from the reserve bank, in which case it is tightly rolled in paper). I once had a boss that brazenly refused to to do anything that inconvenienced him, however remote. So, instead of opening the snap-locks and later returning them to the bank (say, when he picks up the next round of change), he’d just take a box cutter to the bottom of them and then throw them out. When I confronted him about this wasteful carelessness, he demanded that if I wanted the bags re-used then I should take it upon myself to do so.
    Sadly, this sort of impudent self-centred outlook is all too common.

  7. NotSoSage-
    Yeah, it’s pretty jaw-dropping.

    Jangari-
    Engmectomy. That one had me laughing. Hee hee.
    As far as the bags go, I’m partial to the natural fiber ones myself. (Though I wonder if some of the plastic ones use recycled plastics? ‘Cause that would be cool.) And while 150 does sound like a lot of times to reuse a bag, I’ve also found that my heavy duty reusable bags can actually hold as much as 2 or even 3 of the typical plastic bags, plus folks in these parts tend to double bag. So the “savings” may add up faster than expected.

    YTSL-
    I’m glad you found those photos awe-inspiring. (Of course, I’m one of those people who loves contemporary art…) And as for the bringing of the own bags, I’m hoping that’s an idea that will be catching on more and more. Plus I like the idea of bringing bags to used book stores.

    Jangari (re. the comment from the 22nd this time–you’re getting ahead of me!)-
    Yeah, that kind of attitude/outlook is unfortunately too common. But hopefully the tides will turn so that such people will feel compelled to be less careless, if only to appear to fit in. (Do I sound cynical?)

  8. A cynic is just what an idealist calls a realist.
    So what does it mean when I call myself a cynic? I’ve been known to call myself a cynical optimist. So maybe I am both realist and idealist…

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