Taking the lid off America's trash cans
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Taking the lid off America's trash cans

On average, Americans send about half of their waste to landfills. Focused on spreading awareness about this issue, The Glad Products Company sponsored award-winning photojournalist Peter Menzel and writer Faith D’Aluisio's project called 'Waste in Focus'. The photo series looks at what eight families around the U.S. are recycling, composting and sending to landfill.  

Each of the families saved one week’s worth of trash and recycling. D’Aluisio and Menzel then sorted, weighed, cataloged and cleaned the waste for the portraits. Each photo shows recycling on one side and landfill trash on the other. The team then independently developed data and stories to accompany each photo.  

Learn more about the project on the Waste in Focus site

AboveCooke Family | Atlanta, Georgia

George runs a grass-fed beef cattle operation, which he started on his father-in-law’s Georgia ranch, and Bonnie is a painter. Their house is filled with her art, and that of other artists with whom she’s traded. Backyard chickens hunt and peck outside Bonnie’s studio, which George built with salvaged materials, and three dogs have the run of the house.

The Cooke’s suburban home (and well-stocked, commercial-sized refrigerator) serves as a gathering place for their teenaged sons and their friends. Although self-described indifferent recyclers, the Cookes were surprised to see that a significant amount of their recyclables did indeed end up in their recycling bin. 'Probably the only reason we’re doing such a good job recycling these glass bottles is that they’re too big to stuff in the trash can', says George.