Zero Waste - Sophie Gerrard

Brighton and Hove is trying to move towards a future free from waste. As part of its commitment to One Planet Living, the emphasis is on reducing waste, reusing where possible and sending zero waste to landfill. The city and surrounding area is involved in a number of exciting initiatives which are working towards this goal.

Whether within small projects or as part of large international companies, the numerous initiatives working to reduce the amount of waste produced in and around Brighton and Hove are inspiring, innovative and forward thinking.

Individuals and organisations may have different motivations for doing what they do but they all play a role in the reduction of waste in the city of Brighton and Hove. A strong commonality is that many projects rely on a specific chain of events, or on other people behaving in a certain way in order to be successful. There are symbiotic relationships evolving which bring an inevitable sense of community, connectivity and collaboration.

This project addresses the variety, intimacy and emotional connection between people and the materials they re-use and recycle. The connection between individuals and their wider community is one which is passionate and tangible.

People and groups all over the city are working energetically and innovatively with new technology and old materials, creating ideas to produce something which can be re-used, brought back to life and given a new and exciting future

Essay approach

Individuals, as well as materials, are at the heart of this project. My aim, as a documentary photographer, is to seek out individual stories in order to talk about larger issues. With this work, my aim was to present images of people, materials and their environments alongside each other in order to communicate the numerous elements of inter-connection which exist.

This project began by exploring the numerous waste reduction, recycling and processing projects taking place in and around Brighton & Hove. As I met increasing numbers of creative and committed individuals, it became apparent that the emotional connections and emphasis on community and collective working was an integral driving force. Capturing this element of intimacy and passion was a key part of the project for me.

One of the first locations I photographed in was The Wood Store, where I was fascinated by the emotional, and in certain cases, personal motivation some individuals had for buying disused and recycled wood. They spoke of the object’s history, its story and of giving it a new life. Many of the locations photographed contained a beauty which was important to communicate; natural surroundings and fascinating locations, piles of unidentifiable materials and patterns of waste waiting to be processed in industrial locations. For me, the aesthetics of the images invite the audience to take note, to look closer and to question what they see.