Here are some images of all the trash spread out at my friend Steven's photo studio.

Keep in mind that the average American produces orders of magnitude more than Ari did.  Keep in mind also, that the trash is the tip of the iceberg.  Most of the waste, resource consumption and energy usage happen during the process of creating the packaging and waste we see here. 

Ari' life changed when he started this.  He became healthier, lost weight, and felt great.  Turns out, eating fresh, local, organic, and lower on the food chain = less waste in the landfill. 

all of it.

all of it again.





beverage packaging.


energy bars.


random do-dads. 
 - perhaps the most personal pile, besides the notes, to do lists, and letters / cards.




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A friend in Seattle forwarded me an email about Ari Derfel, who had saved his trash for one year and was looking for an artist to turn it into a work of art.  Wow, I thought.  What a pre-potentized package of materials to work with;  what an opportunity!  I emailed.  I talked about my work with trash and the Urban Alchemy projects.  I provided links to images and media.  Ari wrote back.  We talked on email.  We talked on the phone.  I liked Ari immediately.  I liked his energy, his upbeat positivity, spirituality and openness. 

... and the next thing I knew, I was on a plane to the Oakland.

This is Ari.  He had just picked me up from the airport here. We spent the day together in his home, with his garbage collection.  I tried to take in his life as much as I could.  We visited his work, Back to Earth.  We talked about our goals, ideas, visions... I still had no idea what I'd do with the trash... to turn it into art.

Ari showing me his trash in his apartment in Berkeley.