I challenge you to challenge yourself! Why throw away something that could potentially put a smile on the face of a fellow human being? I challenge you to make someone happy – recycle, upcycle, regift, reuse!
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White Storks foraging at a local landfill in Beja, Portugal. As humanity moved from the agricultural lands to the post WWII industrialisation metropolitan lifestyle, the birds followed us towards the big cities, where they are now foraging on the excretions of our human society.
White storks have always lived in close relationship with humans. Who doesn’t know the mythical stories about these large white birds bringing babies to new parents? This legend is based on old European countryfolk-beliefs that the spirit of unborn children dwelled in bodies of water where the stork was known to stalk. Waiting to be plucked by a stork passing by, these babies were then delivered to new mothers.
Other cultures speak highly of white storks as well. In Ancient Egypt the stork was associated with the soul. Greek and Roman mythology portray storks as models of parental devotion. In Chinese wisdom, the stork is a symbol of longevity. In Christianity, the meaning of the stork deals with purification and followers of Islam revered storks because they made an annual pilgrimage to Mecca on their migration.
However, these migratory paths are rapidly changing. The iconic White Stork is a very adaptable, opportunistic species. Since the mid-1980s, increasing numbers of White Stork have chosen to stay on the European continent all year rather than migrate to Africa in winter. These resident birds rely almost exclusively on the guaranteed, abundant food supply from landfill sites throughout the year.
While it is clear that the stork population has benefited from the large quantities of food, you don’t have to be a scientist to see something is wrong.
Over the past years I’ve spend many weeks on landfill sites and recycling centers in Southern Europe. I was working on a photo story about white storks and noticed large flocks of birds foraging on mountains of municipal waste. A scene I can not explain, but a story with desperate need to be told.
Being confronted with the enormous amounts of waste we produce on a daily basis is truly horrifying. Walking through fields of empty bottles, plastic bags, food leftovers and toys still brings me to tears. I lie awake at night, embarrassed to be part of our consumer society. We have to turn the tide. This story is not about storks anymore. It is about us. Look into the mirror and imagine all fables about storks being true. Well…than this is how WE threat new life, longevity…our future.
Do we really want to continue like this? I don’t think it is a matter of will anymore…We have to change this around while we still can.
Why throw away something that could potentially put a smile on the face of a fellow human being? A relative, a friend, a child…
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