Ignorance is bliss, and when it comes to our trash, no truer words are spoken.

But what would happen if we had to live with all our trash instead of having it hauled away?

Photographer Gregg Segal captured this question in a startling photo series, ‘7 Days of Garbage‘, in which he asked friends and acquaintances to save a week’s worth of their household’s trash which he photographed them relaxing in after the seven days were up. The result is a powerful bare-faced look at the waste we generate, and the consequences of turning a blind eye.

9_7 Days of Garbage_ Jane and Sam 65687

8_7 Days of Garbage_Ma#9D54A2

6_7 Days of Garbage_Mi#9D54A5

10_7 Days of Garbage_St#9C35EE

About the series, Segal had this to say:

“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.”

12_7 Days of Garbage_James 57765

11_7 Days of Garbage_Ha#9C3688

5_7 Days of Garbage_Su#9C35E8

4_7_Days_Garbage_Chow Family 66189

According to the EPA, Americans generate a whopping 251 million tons of trash per year, only 34% of which is recycled or able to be recycled. That’s a lot of junk, but when we put our waste in our trash cans and recycling bins, it goes away, and we don’t have to think about it.

Interestingly, Segal revealed that some of the participants in the project ‘edited’ their trash — that is, they purposely left some things out when they went in for their end of the week photoshoot.

3_7 Days of Garbage_Ro#9D54A0

2_7 Days of Garbage_Si#9C36A0

7_7_Days_Garbage_John 65314

1_7 Days of Garbage 57663

Find more of Segal’s work on his website.

Love this article?