Degrading Environment and Habituation :

The day we started getting used to this.
 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia. One of the wonders of the world. Over two million tourists a year. At sunrise, a horde of photographers. After sunrise, trash left behind, shamelessly.

 

Once upon a time, our planet was green. Our planet was clean.
But that was before.


I’m an 80’s child. I did my first travels to the far east in my twenties, the early 2000’s. And I do remember clearly that is it was not perfect, but it was mostly clean. I still have pictures that prove it. Some countries were dirtier than others of course. But it was mostly dust, mud, or organic waste on the ground, and less infrastructures. What I clearly remember, is that it didn’t look like the humankind had given up on the planet.


 

Now, I have been on the road for over a year, and my daily life has become a world of discovery and exploration. I see new things everyday, and I meet new people.
I know I’m living something that few people will get [or dare] to do. This is an awesome chance, but a giant leap in a lifetime. And everyday, I wake up to murmur to my partner: "we are so so lucky…".

This makes people dream. And for a reason. Some even travel and live on selling this dream to others. The dream of a perfect beach. The dream of idleness. The dream of the greatest hotels. The dream of becoming famous. The dream of other people envying your life.


But traveling has one major downside. You cannot keep your eyes closed on our degrading environment. And what hurts sometimes, is to see these dreamsellers sell places and situations that do not exist anymore. Selling perfect utopia.

 

Clean beaches in Bali.

Loneliness in the Antelope Canyon.

Contemplative spirituality at the MachuPicchu.

To me, it is still mostly fine... until I see them crop their photos to take the embarrassing stuff away. The crowds. The clouds. The trash.

In my opinion, it is just as off-putting as when a journalist uses a picture of a long-ago war to illustrate the rising violence of a city. Or as hypocritical as when we're being told that electric mobility is clean, while the extraction of rare earths is destroying landscapes and wasting great amounts of water. It sometimes look like the word ethics has been banned from our world. But I miss it.



The planet has once been extremely beautiful, it has been feeding, ravishing, and inspiring. But today, it offers us a new face to see. And just as a person is hard to recognize after too much face surgery, our earth is hard to recognize sometimes.
 
Beaches are trashed, woods are trashed, monuments are trashed, oceans and rivers are trashed, roads are trashed… But this is not the worst.

The worst is that our eyes are getting used to it. That it is becoming our normality. People swim in the trash, paddle in the trash, they fish in the trash, they drive in the trash, they walk in the trash, they take picnics in the trash. They play in the trash. They live in the trash.

 

Sites around the world apply for World Heritage recognition by the Unesco and sometimes get listed as such, like Guanajuato, Sian Ka'an, Jaipur, or the temples of Angkor, they take the advantages of the flow of tourism that follows any listing, and never really comply with what "conservation" should really mean. They do not necessarily invest in renovation, cleanliness, or education. And in some ways, I fine this quite unfair to only take advantage without giving back to conservation and protection.

This series of pictures I’m afraid, is bound to grow.

It doesn't have an end. I intend to keep documenting the state of our planet, even though it breaks my heart each and every single time I grab my camera to do it.

The fact that we’re just getting used to it is unacceptable to me. That kids being born today will never know what a clean river is, a clean desert looks like, or a clean street means.
With on one side a strong focus on aesthetics in the consumerist world of today and on the other side places being more and more trashed, everything now has to be retouched or framed on the “good looking”. Selfies, surroundings, landscapes… I wanted to put reality back into its context, for once.
“For once”, because like everybody else, I prefer the good-looking. So I normally end-up traveling to remote enough places where the landscapes are clean. But in the end, even if my pictures show nothing but the truth, they do not always show the whole truth. And I wanted you to know.
 
I hope this project can act as a witness of one particular moment in the history – the very moment when humans have forgotten to consider their own garden as a treasure and started getting used to the sight of their own trash.



NOTE : These photographs have been edited in a style that is very different from the one I choose for other pictures usually. Here, I used filters that are very contemporary, very anchored into the 2010's.
I wanted to give them a feel that is the one of the Instagram generation, to show what our world of today is mostly not showing : the downsides of everything.

 

Habituation

Habituation is a form of non-associative learning in which an innate response to a stimulus decreases after repeated or prolonged presentations of that stimulus. Responses that habituate include those that involve the intact organism (e.g., full-body response) or those that involve only components of the organism.

The broad ubiquity of habituation across all biologic phyla has resulted in it being called "the simplest, most universal form of learning... as fundamental a characteristic of life as DNA."  Functionally-speaking, by diminishing the response to an inconsequential stimulus, habituation is thought to free-up cognitive resources to other stimuli that are associated with biologically important events (i.e., punishment/reward).

For example, organisms may habituate to repeated sudden loud noises when they learn these have no consequences. A progressive decline of a behavior in a habituation procedure may also reflect nonspecific effects such as fatigue, which must be ruled out when the interest is in habituation.

 
(www.wikipedia.com)

" Traveling has one major downside.

You can't close your eyes on our degrading environment "

Perula, Mexico

On the Punta Pérula Beach in Jalisco, Mexico, it is obvious that some trash doesn't come dragged by the sea, but is what visitors leave behind them.

Perula, Mexico

The pacific ocean beaches in Mexico are somewhat cleaner than those of the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico. However it may only be for there are lots of waves washing trash away. There is almost no way to find a river coming into the sea without noticing that they drain trash with them, that will end up in the ocean. It is the case here in Perula, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Michoacan, Mexico

On the pacific ocean road, crossing a number of states, it is frequent to find wild dumping places, directly above the ocean, and with a view.

Veracruz, Mexico

On the beach of Chalchihuecan, north of Veracruz, and on the gulf of Mexico, trash coming from the sea and from the land alike lie on the beach.

Michoacan, Mexico

On the pacific ocean road, crossing a number of states, it is frequent to find wild dumping places, directly above the ocean, and with a view.

Veracruz, Mexico

On the beach of Chalchihuecan, north of Veracruz, and on the gulf of Mexico, trash coming from the sea and from the land alike lie on the beach. Many people come and take selfies in the middle of the plastics and fishing tools. People have gotten used to it by now, and this scene has become the new normal.

Veracruz, Mexico

On the beach of Chalchihuecan, north of Veracruz, and on the gulf of Mexico, trash coming from the sea and from the land alike lie on the beach. To come to the beach, people cross a large area where trash is stagnating due to the tides, without even noticing it any longer.

Veracruz, Mexico

On the beach of Chalchihuecan, north of Veracruz, and on the gulf of Mexico, trash coming from the sea and from the land alike lie on the beach. That does not prevent tourists and visitors to enjoy, swim, and dump their own leftovers.

Michoacan, Mexico

On the pacific ocean road, crossing a number of states, it is frequent to find wild dumping places, directly above the ocean, and with a view.

Nusa Penida, Indonesia

A water temple in the ocean facing a beach that is full of trash and where people come take selfies.

Kuala Rompin, Malaysia

Along the east coast of continental Malaysia, the beaches are all entirely covered in trash, coming from the ocean and the land. Locals still come play, and picnic there.

Qixingtan Beach, Taiwan

A fisherman in Taiwan, living and fishing on a trashed beach, used to the sight and as if it was normal.

Laomei Beach, Taiwan

Tourists come and enjoy the beach in Taiwan, in spite of the heavy trash on almost every beach of the island.

Qixingtan Beach, Taiwan

Type of trash found on Taiwanese beaches.

Near Nanya Rock, Taiwan

A beautiful coastline of cliffs. And yet, fishing trash everywhere along the coast.

Kuala Rompin, Malaysia

Me, being tired and upset. I had the desire to shock putting myself into the shoes of all these people I see who don't care. After that, I cried for a long time.

Tulum, Mexico

A kid throws dead fishes at the seagulls. On the Quintana Roo coast of Mexico, south of Cancun, the invasion of Sargassum seaweeds is so dramatic that it kills a great number of marine life. That doesn't prevent the people from playing in the toxic seaweeds.

Tulum, Mexico

Same kid throws dead fishes at the seagulls. Sargassum are a result of the overuse of fertilizers in central and South America.

Sian Ka'an Biosphere, Mexico

A family goes to the beach, ignoring the trash that surrounds them.

Cholula, Mexico

Cholula, in the state of Puebla, Mexico, is famous for a few different things. First it is the oldest living city in America, dating back to 500 BC, but also, it is famous for its agriculture. Flowers, corn, nopal (a type of cactus), etc. But most of the time, agriculture is done in the middle of trash and plastics that are already dug dip in the soil.

Zacualpan de Amilpas, Mexico

In the old Hacienda de Cuautepec, in Morelos, Mexico, people come and just chill out. They have a beer, come with music and enjoy. And at the entrance, maybe youngsters recognize their old school bus, that has been abandoned there by either the transport company, or maybe the local government. It is rusting, slowly being digested by nature... and one day soon, it will be buried into the field that's being used to grow crops... Although it's not plastic, it is still pollution.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia. One of the wonders of the world. Over two million tourists a year. At sunrise, a horde of photographers. After sunrise, trash left behind, shamelessly.

Zacatlán, Mexico

On a parking lot going to one of the nicest waterfalls of the state of Puebla, Quetzalapan Cascadas, and although it is a very touristic place, there is still no understanding, no sensitization to waste dumping in the wild. During rain season, all these pieces of trash run down to the waterfall and eventually, reach the gulf of Mexico.

Zacatlán, Mexico

On a parking lot going to one of the nicest waterfalls of the state of Puebla, Quetzalapan Cascadas, and although it is a very touristic place, there is still no understanding, no sensitization to waste dumping in the wild. During rain season, all these pieces of trash run down to the waterfall and eventually, reach the gulf of Mexico.

San Agustin Ahuehuetla

The walk to the waterfalls of Ahuehuetla is stunning. The trees are mesmerizing and the river runs down between them. People tend to be careful, and bring their trash with them. However, during the high season, the path is busy, and the river carries stuff from further up. Bottles and other plastic crap are a common sight on that path to the waterfalls.

Road to Chichen Itza, Mexico

The road between Cancun and the major Maya Temple, one of the main tourist attraction, Chichen Itza, is all trashed by locals.

Road to Chichen Itza, Mexico

Trash and a graffiti on the "Chichen Itza, World Wonder" (maravilla del mundo) on the road to the Mayan site.

Puebla, Mexico

At the foot of one of the most emblematic volcanoes of Mexico, lie a number of wild dumping areas. Here in Puebla, literally one mile away from an official landfill and recycling plant.

Puebla, Mexico

At the foot of one of the most emblematic volcanoes of Mexico, lie a number of wild dumping areas. Here in Puebla, literally one mile away from an official landfill and recycling plant.

National Park Popocatepetl, Mexico

Even a national park, there is no exception. Trash exists. In the park of the famous Popocatepetl volcano, there are a few resort villages, and there, in Buenavista Fraccionamiento, all the resort trashes end up in the mountain. In the raining season, there are snowfalls every night on the volcano. And every afternoon, the snow melts, it creates temporary rivers, and together with the lower heaving rainfalls, a part of this garbage ends up going down, down, down all the way to the ocean.

National Park Popocatepetl, Mexico

Even a national park, there is no exception. Trash exists. In the park of the famous Popocatepetl volcano, there are a few resort villages, and there, in Buenavista Fraccionamiento, all the resort trashes end up in the mountain. In the raining season, there are snowfalls every night on the volcano. And every afternoon, the snow melts, it creates temporary rivers, and together with the lower heaving rainfalls, a part of this garbage ends up going down, down, down all the way to the ocean.

Zacualpan de Amilpas, Mexico

In the old Hacienda de Cuautepec, in Morelos, Mexico, people come and just chill out. They have a beer, come with music and enjoy. Lots of them will take their trash with them. A few may not. But some people go a step further, and they walk along the path to find themselves within the Hacienda walls, and there, throw their old tires. At this point, it might be perversion.

Chalcatzingo Archeological Site, Mexico

In Mexico, just outside the main touristic areas, it is not rare to notice that there is a lack of trash management. While major touristic areas are being kept clean for the visitors, the surroundings are often entirely trashed.

Galta Ji Temple, Jaipur, India

Trash burning in one giant temple in India, Galta Ji, Jaipur.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

The difficulty to trash things in dedicated bins doesn't always seem obvious to everyone, but it exists to others.

Lempuyang Temple, Indonesia

The difficulty to trash things in dedicated bins doesn't always seem obvious to everyone, but it exists to others.

Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

A waterfall vomiting hometrash coming from the rivers of the surroundings.

Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia

A detail of waterfall vomiting hometrash coming from the rivers of the surroundings.

Zacatlán, Mexico

San Pedro waterfall in Zacatlán, in the state of Puebla, is no exception to the trash sensitivity of the area. Although it is a little cleaner than its bigger waterfall sister just a few kilometers north because it is less touristic, there are still a number of plastics, glass and carton garbage on the ground, and that does not prevent even the youngest from enjoying all the same.

Lempuyang Temple, Indonesia

On their way to the jungle temples, locals throw the things they took with them on the side of the track: drinks, snacks, etc.

Harihari, New Zealand

In a garden, a few old cars are waiting for the earth to digest them, little by little, piece by piece.

Jaisalmer, India

In India, Holy donations are very important. However, there's no distinction made between organic products and plastic, paper, wax, etc.

Jaisalmer, India

Type of offerings done in India during the holy celebrations. Paper, plastic, wax, textile get into the ponds without distinction and pollute the waters.

Bundi, India

A typical village pond in India, receiving the trash from the village and the surrounding rivers.

Jaipur, India

A typical pond in India. Birds and fishes eat all sort of inorganic and toxic things that people throw in the water.

Srinagar, Indian Kashmir

A sinking boathouse in Srinagar. The village was once wealthy from the sales of Cashmere, but today, people abandon their architectural treasures that sink and pollute the waters of the beautiful mountain lake.

Srinagar, Indian Kashmir

People throw their household garbage directly out of their home into the lake.

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Common sight in a temple in Bali.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Even World Heritage Unesco listed sites are trashed. In Guanajuato, the city center is sparkling while all the road surrounding the cities are as trash as can be. There is no education, no information, no proper containers.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato is a World Heritage Unesco listed city for its ancient mines and its colorful houses. That said, the city center is extremely touristic and being taking care of. But the outskirts, even just one kilometer away from the tourist places, are full of savage trashing, improvised landfill, where plastic lies alongside with household products, mattresses, chairs, car parts, etc.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Even World Heritage Unesco listed sites are trashed. In Guanajuato, the city center is sparkling while all the road surrounding the cities are as trash as can be. There is no education, no information, no proper containers.

Guanajuato, Mexico

Even World Heritage Unesco listed sites are trashed. In Guanajuato, the city center is sparkling while all the road surrounding the cities are as trash as can be. There is no education, no information, no proper containers.

Marseille, France

France is not exempt from trash. Even though it looks cleaner on the surface, roads are trashed with plastics, and so are some cities.

Old Delhi, India

Common sight in Delhi, India. Trash here is almost invisible, because of the amount of it.

Atlixco, Mexico

It is quite a surprise to find a tampon applicator just inside a pipe open on a street wall. Where did the girl apply it? Where did she go? How did she not throw it into a container?

Brisbane, Australia

In the river of Brisbane pretty town, the water turns dark and slowly absorbs the garbage humans throw in it. Here, a shopping cart.

 

© 2020 by Noémie Bourdin-Habert.

    Terms & Conditions                   |               Worldwide Availability    

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
Harihari, New Zealand

In a garden, a few old cars are waiting for the earth to digest them, little by little, piece by piece.