Our Disposable World

by Franke James

To kick off Earth Week, I presented “Our Disposable World” to students at Upper Canada College in Toronto. Below are highlights from my presentation — told in visual essay style.

disposable earth illustration by Franke James

shiny new earth illustration by Franke James

photo of tire on beach by Franke James and illustrated type

illustration of human error with type by Franke James

photo of broken beer bottle on beach by Franke James and illustrated type

trash vortex image by Greenpeace, Google Map Texas overlay by Franke James We throw so much garbage in the ocean, there’s a floating island of trash in the Pacific that is as big as Texas! (See the Trash Vortex animation by Greenpeace.)

photo of plastic bottle on beach and toxic skull and crossbones illustrations by Franke James

fish on plate illustration by Franke James

photo by © Jiri Rezac, Greenpeace Canada of Alberta Tar Sands pollution, overlay of sewer grate photo Franke James

co2 toaster bottom by Franke James

Green Conscience

Green Conscience

And that is exactly the temptation humanity needs to resist. Because it’s getting late.



Our Disposable World” © 2010 Franke James

Photographs, illustrations and writing by Franke James, MFA, except as noted below in order of appearance:

“Far Away Impact” features sculpture from COP15 (photo by Franke James). Background landscape is © istockphoto.

“Sewer Sky” illustration features Tar sands photo © Jiri Rezac / Greenpeace

“Some who lobby to pollute” features Tar sands photo  © EM / Greenpeace

Trash Vortex  ©Greenpeace Canada

Research reports:
Conference Board of Canada: Environment GHG Emissions Per Capita

“Canada is one of the world’s largest GHG emitters. Canada ranks 16th out of 17 OECD countries on GHG emissions per capita and scores a “D” grade. In 2005, Canada’s GHG emissions were 22.6 tonnes per capita, almost double the 17-country average of 12.4 tonnes per capita. Canada’s per capita GHG emissions were also almost four times greater than Norway’s, the top performer.

While Canada’s GHG emissions per capita have risen since 1990, Norway managed to decrease its GHG emissions per capita by 30 per cent between 1990 and 2005.” For more details go to report.

G8 Climate Scorecard by WWF and Allianz:
Animation overview. Or download the pdf report.

43 Responses: 11 Comments and 32 Tweets

  • Lalorek says:


    @lalorek This is fantastic RT @frankejames My Earth Week visual essay: Our Disposable World: #environment #earthday

  • pausetothink says:


    @pausetothink Fantastic! RT @frankejames: My Earth Week visual essay: Our Disposable World: #environment #earthday

  • ADHumlen says:


    @ADHumlen Excellent Post- Visual essay: Our Disposable World By @frankejames: #green #Eco #sustainability


    @catherineellen .@frankejames Awesome presentation. And you’re right about the hardest thing first. For me, that’s a car. Haven’t had once since 2005.

  • rumon says:

    As ever, great visualization, Franke! We need more folks like you coming up with divergent and engaging ways to describe and discuss our challenges, environmental and other. I’m especially drawn in this case to the My Green Conscience stepwise approach to change, noting that the social web provides us all, as publishers, greater means to brag about (i.e. share) our successes. And, as the UCC student observed, let’s all get serious and go after the hard goals – that’s what our inherent adventurous spirit would have us do.

  • Ali S. says:

    Great work as usual.

    The fact that social pressure is a bigger force in social change is very true. It’s all about creating a new social discourse on our controversial behavior, and this is best done through media and personal interactions.

    Seriously, if we pick up dog shit, anything is possible :) very true!

  • […] Her book is fun to read and look at for all ages, and it WILL motivate even the most apathetic person to take the first steps to cleaning up their own environment and having some fun doing it, too. Franke's Blog And Artwork For the Planet is a MUST SEE […]

  • GreenHearted says:

    Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t also have done or be doing all the “low-hanging fruit,” too! As you point out, Franke, it’s amazing how many places still don’t recycle – which means that people who still throw everything away are stuck believing there is an “away.”

    But nor do we talk enough in our society about not consuming as much stuff. The economics is still so perverse, alas. But happiness and wealth (of money and stuff) just do not correlate past a certain level of security and comfort.

    Thanks for making it fun for us to think and talk about these big ideas!

  • […] As I read the morning news about the evolving Nuclear crisis in Japan — And radiation from Japan reaching Canadian shores — I was reminded of this image from my 2010 Earth Day visual essay: Our Disposable World: […]

  • Moe Irish says:

    So I’m trying to start the green club going at my school, not an easy task, and I would like to use this in my piece to try and help motivate my fellow peers to go green! If anyone has any other good websites that would be a good idea to use, I would greatly appreciate if you could email me the link at :)

  • Franke James says:


    Glad that you found my visual essay and talk inspirational!

    You can use it non-commercially, so long as you give me credit as the author/artist, insert a link to this post [], and don’t modify my essay or the pictures.

    If you do need to modify it — please contact me with your request.


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