By Christopher Tkaczyk
November 04, 2016
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Courtesy of Gregg Segal

Christopher Tkaczyk is the Senior News Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ctkaczyk.

How much garbage do you produce each week? Would you lie down in it and have your picture taken? That’s exactly what photographer Gregg Segal wants you to do.

In 2014, Segal began asking friends, family, and neighbors in Altadena, California, to save their garbage for one week, and then lay down alongside side the trash and pose for a photograph. The “7 Days of Garbage” photo project aims to shed a light on mass consumption, waste, and healthy eating habits.

Courtesy of Gregg Segal

“As a photographer and someone who cares about the future of our planet, I’m interested in all aspects of consumption. Both what we consume and what we throw away tell a story about our health and the health of the planet,” Segal writes in a new Kickstarter campaign, which he launched to help continue his goal of capturing portraits of people alongside their food and garbage. He’s hoping to raise $12,000 to fund the project for travel expenses and hiring local food stylists for each portrait.

“There’s a lot of talk about what we should and shouldn’t be eating and a growing awareness about the harm of eating processed foods loaded with salt, fat, sugar and empty carbs. But how much, if at all, are our diets changing?” Segal asks.

“Many of the people I’ve photographed are starting to make small changes in their consumption habits,” Segal said. “They're composting more and buying products made to last longer instead of cheap, disposable ones. They’re choosing products with less packaging, re-using plastic containers rather than tossing them, and buying water bottles made of glass or stainless steel.”

Courtesy of Gregg Segal

For his follow-up project, “Daily Bread,” Segal has partnered with Dr. Maya Adam, a professor at Stanford University and the author of “Food Love Family: A Practical Guide to Child Nutrition,” who has reached an audience of more than 250,000 students with online courses about ways families can better cook for themselves. Segal says that Daily Bread will be part social commentary, part art project, and part public health initiative.

So far, Adam has reached out to her students in 80 countries to ask for participants in the project, which will send Segal around the world to see how food consumption differs among a diverse array of cultures. His goal is to meet families from various countries and photograph children between the ages of 7 and 11 years old alongside the food they eat in one week.

“Indigenous diets in various parts in the world are eating better than in the west,” Segal told Travel + Leisure. “How does the diet of a child who lives in the foothills of the Himalayas differ from that of a child in suburban Wisconsin?”

Courtesy of Gregg Segal

Ultimately, Segal and Adam hope to create a book with the portraits alongside recipes for healthy eating habits.

If you want to help support the project, there’s only one week left in the campaign.