Personifying the Waste Problem: Photos of People Lying in 7 Days of Their Own Trash


Photographer Gregg Segal wanted to put a human face on the trash problem in the US. Cold numbers and statistics can only have so much of an impact, pictures of real families and individuals lying in 7 days-worth of their own trash… now that would get some attention.

Thus was born the 7 Days of Garbage series, a set of photographs featuring people from varied socioeconomic backgrounds literally wallowing in a week’s worth of their waste.

In the Artist’s Statement on the series, Segal explains what it is we’re looking at:

7 Days of Garbage is a series of portraits of friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances with the garbage they accumulate in the course of a week. Subjects are photographed surrounded by their trash in a setting that is part nest, part archeological record. We’ve made our bed and in it we lie.


Of course, not every photograph you see is 100% honest. In a recent interview with Slate about the series, Segal reveals that some people “edited” their trash to take out “the really foul stuff.” Many, however, showed up with the full contents of their week’s waste.

It’s those images, maintains Segal, that turned out the strongest. Here’s a selection of photographs from 7 Days of Garbage that Segal was kind enough to share with us:

Alfie, Kirsten, Miles and Elly.

Sam and Jane.

Michael, Jason, Annie and Olivia


Marsha and Steven.


Elias, Jessica, Azai and Ri-karlo.


Lya, Whitney and Kathrin.


Till and Nicholas.

The point of the series was to draw attention to the sheer amount of garbage we produce, and perhaps encourage people to do their part to help the situation.

“We’re just cogs in a machine and you’re not culpable really but at the same time you are because you’re not doing anything, you’re not making any effort,” he told Slate. “There are some little steps you can take to lessen the amount of waste you produce.”

To find out more about the series or if you’d like to keep up with Segal as he continues to add to it — he hopes to expand the series to include more environments, so that people will realize no environment is left untouched by trash — head over to Segal’s website or give him a follow on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

(via Slate)

Image credits: Photographs by Gregg Segal and used with permission

  • Ronald


  • Eden Wong

    My waste is a minuscule fraction of what some of those people are generating. Some of them should be ashamed of themselves.

  • Skeeter

    I was thinking the same…I only produce a fraction of these people — then again, most of these pics have 2-4 people and I am just one.

  • Birear

    Josiah . although Jacqueline `s stori is surprising,
    last week I bought themselves a Chrysler from having made $5060 thiss month
    and-in excess of, 10/k last-month . it’s realy the easiest-work I have ever done
    . I started this 4 months ago and pretty much straight away was bringin in at
    least $78 per-hour . why not look here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Thomas Kryton

    What’s also interesting is the types of trash is pictured with them. The more affluent looking couple has a wine bottle, the two guys lots of take-out. These portraits could point to a lot of potentially dangerous stereotyping, e.g. the old guy with with six different bottles of alcohol around him, is he a problem drinker or he just finally got around to getting rid of the empties. Did these people knowing the project’s goals generate more or less trash, e.g. the smoking girl’s pile. Does someone really go through that many cleaning products in a week?

    While the work does draw attention to the rampant consumerism we’ve all been indoctrinated with and our throw away culture is it a true reflection of these people’s lifestyles or a partial fictionalization? For example someone who has bought into the ideal of a navy blue pin stripe suit wearing one cerulean blue sock and one emerald green sock?

  • JessicaCapps

    So, do these pictures include their recycling too, because the majority of that stuff could have been recycled.

  • Dustin

    Bizarre and brilliant. Glad I saw this gallery lol

  • Chris Petersen

    I was going to say the same thing. Maybe it’s just because I live in a large city with good recycling and composting programs (all of the food waste and even those greasy pizza boxes would go into the city compost here), but a lot of that stuff isn’t “trash”.

  • JessicaCapps

    I don’t even live in a big city (65k), and I would recycle almost all of what what in those pics via our trash/recycling service. I’m with ya.

  • ThatGuy

    Unfortunately, not every city has a recycling program.

  • Vin Weathermon

    The bigger the group, the more the waste. The more successful you are, the more waste you have. The more you live…the more you impact. You can be a hermit and buy nothing, and cook only garden vegetables, never wash your clothes, etc. But then you are probably destitute in that case. I would hope that recycling fits in the picture somewhere.

  • Vin Weathermon

    I think most of those that need them do.

  • kathleendtucker

    My Uncle
    Joshua just got an almost new white Kia Rio Hatchback only from working
    part-time off a home computer. try this C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

  • Jason Yuen

    Amazing. You can literally see the kind of lifestyle each person/group is living from their waste. Makes you wonder what lengths law enforcement will go to in order to build a profile of suspects.

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  • gregorymbehrens

    just before I looked at the receipt ov $8130 , I
    didn’t believe that my sister woz like actualy bringing in money part-time from
    there pretty old laptop. . there aunts neighbour has been doing this 4 only
    about 22 months and at present repayed the mortgage on their appartment and
    bought themselves a Chrysler . see here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­