Gregg Segal, award-winning photographer

Gregg Segal

“There’s an answer to the problem: recycle small electricals”

Behind the scenes with award-winning photographer Gregg Segal.

Known for his works of social commentary, Gregg Segal explains why he collaborated with Recycle Your Electricals on a photographic project that captures a bird’s-eye view of people surrounded by their old electricals.

“As a photographer, I’m passionate about creating pictures that allow people to see and understand social issues in a way they might not have considered before. A few years ago, I created 7 Days of Garbage. For that project, I asked family, friends, neighbours, and anyone else I could convince, to save their garbage for a week and then lie down and be photographed in it. I found that we don’t fully grasp how much waste we generate until we’re lying in a week’s worth of our own garbage.”

“The majority of people’s garbage was food waste and the packaging that comes with the food and merchandise we buy.”

“But there’s a whole other dimension to the waste problem and that’s electrical waste – the fastest growing waste stream in the world and the UK. So, what happens to all these gadgets? They pile up in our cupboards and closets or they get tossed out.”

“I collaborated with the Recycle Your Electricals campaign to let people know there’s an answer to the problem: recycle those small old electricals.”

7 Days of Garbage, was the visual reference for my new project for the Recycle Your Electricals campaign. The bird’s-eye perspective allows viewers to clearly see the objects at a glance. The small, old electricals are crowded around the subjects. It’s meant to feel a little overwhelming – to reflect what we all feel when we hoard all this stuff. But we can feel relief, too. We don’t have to be surrounded by this stuff. We can pass on these old electricals to others or recycle them.”

“I have to confess; I have my own collection of derelict electricals stashed in my office. I have at least two drawers full of cables alone. Why do I hold onto them? I guess I think they’ll be of use at some point. Or maybe there’s guilt for having purchased something that I’ve only used a few times. I don’t want to acknowledge the waste. But knowing now that these small old electricals can be repurposed into life-saving medical equipment, playgrounds and bicycles makes me feel better about getting rid of them productively.”

“When people see these pictures, I really want to stop them in their tracks. I expect that people will react to the portraits with a combination of, “Oh, wow, that looks like me and all my stuff,” and then, “Oh, great news, there’s a place I can take all my unused small electricals to be recycled.”

“I hope people will see themselves (and their old electricals!) in these pictures and will be inspired to unburden themselves with a good purge, by donating their small old electricals that still work and recycling the ones that don’t.”

Airing and sharing

On the Hidden Treasures photo shoot, Gregg and Downsy discovered that, like millions of us, they find it hard to let go of old electrical gear – whether that’s on the off-chance it will come in handy some time, or for sentimental reasons. But they admit that those old cables, kettles, phone chargers and other electricals crammed in cupboards and drawers will probably never get used again. Time to recycle.

Listen to Gregg and Downsy in conversation on Sam FM.

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