TED Talk: Chris Jordan pictures some shocking stats about paper cups

In this talk artist Chris Jordan presents an arresting view of what Western culture looks like. His supersized images picture some almost unimaginable statistics — like the astonishing number of paper cups we use every single day.

For example, we use 4 million cups per day just on airlines, which of course do not get reused or recycled.  We also use 40 million cups a day for just for hot beverages.  Check out the first few minutes of this talk, where Chris provides even more insight:

About Chris Jordan
Chris runs the numbers on modern American life — making large-format, long-zoom artwork from the most mindblowing data about our stuff.

Photographer Chris Jordan trains his eye on American consumption. His 2003-05 series “Intolerable Beauty” examines the hypnotic allure of the sheer amount of stuff we make and consume every day: cliffs of baled scrap, small cities of shipping containers, endless grids of mass-produced goods.

His 2005 book In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster is a chilling, unflinching look at the toll of the storm. And his latest series of photographs, “Running the Numbers,” gives dramatic life to statistics of US consumption. Often-heard factoids like “We use 2 million plastic bottles every 5 minutes” become a chilling sea of plastic that stretches beyond our horizon.

In April 2008, Jordan traveled around the world with National Geographic as an international eco-ambassador for Earth Day 2008.

“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 Jordan on Bill Moyers Journal

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