Photographer and Artist Irina Heinz is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay. From the project ‘What will remain after me’. To see Irina’s body of work, click on any image.
It is terrible to disappear – I want to leave a mark. Something eternal. Is it possible? The world has become a supermarket; things are disposable, people are consumers. Our main activity is shopping. Everyone dreams of affording even more. Humanity annually produces more than 2 billion tons of waste. It seems that we leave behind only trash. The irony is that it is immortal.
I decided to make a generalized “consumer portrait”, using the garbage of heroes as a metaphor. First, I took pictures of the garbage itself and made masks from photographs. Then I shot masked heroes and talked to them about consumerism and the waste problem. Is there a problem?
I could take part in the Fridays For Future, but for me, it is more critical to agitate for more rational consumption of my friends. I am worried about the incredible amount of plastic, which is becoming more and more. I did not know that there is a whole island of garbage in the ocean. And that microplastic penetrates the habitat – we ourselves already feed on it. If a man really considers himself the master of nature, on the contrary, he should treat everything responsibly.
Everyone wants to be happy. There are thousands of ways. Consumption is the worst, but the simplest and most common. In addition, it is advertised everywhere: “Buying this little thing will give you joy!” Theoretically, I could change my habits, practically – not now. Yes, it seems to me that these are such stupid excuses! But I can not. I don’t have enough time and energy. Of course, I understand perfectly well what is good and what is bad. But great efforts are needed.
3-4 years have passed since my first waste sorting. Since last summer, we began to compost organic matter and export it to the country. In winter, we do not compost – organics goes to the trash. This is mom’s area of responsibility. She read that not everything should be put in compost. For example, cherry pits and citrus fruits. Sometimes I allow myself concessions: take chips or ice cream in non-recyclable packaging. Some people look at me as I’m a holy fool because they don’t understand what for I spend so much effort. But in nature there is biodiversity – I try to treat people the same way.
The garbage issue is important, but we need to influence people. More advertising, clarifications. On TV, they don’t talk about it, but how will the people find out? Someone on the Internet will partially grab a piece of information. That’s it. They have to talk a lot: about landfills, about illegal ones, about the need to build infrastructure. I think that under the current government there will be no changes.
I ask a few questions in the field of ecology. I know that I am not doing enough and can do better, but I find myself a thousand excuses. At the same time, I can blame parents: they do not understand that a slightly soiled bag can be washed, not thrown away. When my mother found out that I had been accumulating waste for two months (for waste sorting), she was horrified: “They stink, what kind of dump do you live at?” I said that everything is washed, and she: “What ?! Do you also wash it? ”It was something, she didn’t understand at all – another paradigm. They do not know about the plastic influence, what harm it makes, that it decomposes for hundreds of years.
Am I ready to change my consumer habits? Not, I’m not. The motive to keep the peace, to enable other generations to live in normal conditions, is fair. But it can’t overcome the habits of buying and consuming here and now. Rather, the motive for struggling for your health, when it is already critical.
No one is even interested in the fact that we are sitting on nuclear bombs. We have nearby ballistic missiles crawling along the roads, blocking them. In 15 minutes there may be no world! How come we can think of saving it for future generations? It is not known how much time we have – no way I will think that it’s not worth buying myself an extra ice cream.
I’m disappointed that in my country there is no such thing as care. Including care about ecology. I don’t understand why the government doesn’t care at all? The initiative comes from people, not from the authorities, and this is a disgrace. There is simply no official way of sorting the waste. Why is education accessible to everyone, but the opportunity not to pollute your own home is not available? Some kind of absurdity. In order not to litter, you must make such an effort! I don’t get on the ‘Waste Sorting’ volunteer campaign. So I go to take my waste to IKEA – and thanks to the Swedes I feel like a normal person. Although not everything can be given away.
Once I threw out the food and realized that the bucket had just been completely empty, and now it is full. And it covered me: I just created a garbage bin. Next second I made a decision: from tomorrow I don’t do that anymore. “Waste Sorting” campaigns took place just next to me. Automatism is a very scary thing. He is in everything. In attitude to people, yourself, to everything. We take everything for granted, we don’t feel the limbs. But any resource can end, cease to be accessible to everyone, become more expensive. The climate is changing and it really bothers me. Even 10 years ago, everything was different. These are very quick changes. And if they are already happening so quickly, then everything will only be faster. Everything can really end sadly and tragically. For us. Not even for grandchildren.
In 2012, the professor who was connected with the environmental topic told me about the city dump. Which, by the way, I could observe from the window of my apartment – it was high. He said that by 2020 the landfill would be so huge, and the amount of methane so high that any spark can lead to disaster. Frankly, it didn’t affect me. In my city, first of all, the problem was not with sorting, but with the fact that garbage was not taken out from some areas at all.
I tell my colleagues: “Pour coffee into reusable mug.” And they don’t understand how come “paper” cups are harmful. That is, people do not even guess. Take a piece of paper and dunk in the water. What is happening? It is soaking. So how can a paper cup hold liquid for hours? There is a plastic film inside. I don’t mean that people are dumb, they just don’t want to think. Everything goes to simplification. Technology thinks for us and does everything.
We will reach the point of practical non-return and will quickly begin to improve. Another question is whether we succeed. What kind of logic do people have? Why will I be bothered? Bother someone instead, and I’ll think about it. For the conscience of the majority to wake up, one needs either a violent order or to educate a generation that will have a different way of thinking. And what about us? We have one idea – glossy magazines, advertising: this is how you need to look, this is how you need to walk, this you need to buy, this to have. To have, to have, to have. All. And why, for what? Because I deserve it! And everyone is I.
Larisa, 49 (FEATURED IMAGE)
In the spring we went to the forest near the house every day for two months. Went with bags to collect garbage. In the summer, the schedule went astray. Now we started again. I went into the forest and was horrified: “I can’t take all this away.” I tried, and then my hands dropped. Even with children, it’s not possible to collect everything. Now at home, we began to stack batteries and bulbs separately. I try not to throw out the paper – either we burn it in the stove or in a fire. We are not sorting plastic and glass yet. It hurts the soul that the glass is thrown away. But so far I haven’t developed an algorithm of how it can be passed. If there were containers near the house, I would love to use it.
All images and text © Irina Heinz
By Irina Heinz
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