Picturing Excess

I'm beginning to think about a summer school seminar on Sustainability Leadership that I will be running in Lincoln this year. My starting point is that sustainability leaders need to do more than just do different things. Doing things differently means that they need to think differently and generate a different sense of awareness.

Part of this is about seeing through the illusion of the collective. As photographer Chris Jordan says:

"As you walk up close, you can see that the collective is only made up of lots and lots of individuals. There is no bad consumer over there somewhere who needs to be educated. There is no public out there who needs to change. It's each one of us."

 

Chris focusses on simply showing us the impact of our choices.  Here is a grab from his TED talk; a photograph made from the 1,000,000 plastic cups that are used on american airlines every 6 hours.  None of these cups are recycled.  

Have a look at Chris's full TED talk (11m 14s) where he graphically examines 'the behaviours we engage in unconsciously at a collective level.'

 

Checking out his website, I really appreciate the gentle, adult line Chris takes as a leader in this field: 

"As an American consumer myself, I am in no position to finger wag; but I do know that when we reflect on a difficult question in the absence of an answer, our attention can turn inward, and in that space may exist the possibility of some evolution of thought or action. So my hope is that these photographs can serve as portals to a kind of cultural self-inquiry. It may not be the most comfortable terrain, but I have heard it said that in risking self-awareness, at least we know that we are awake."