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13th Annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest People
Les Feuilles

A sustainable travel project is one in which no matter how far you travel, you are using your journey to educate others on sustainability and protecting the earth. Depicted in my photo are les feuilles: the leaves. Les feuilles de papier: the pieces of paper. There is such a minute difference between the French words for leaves and for pieces of paper. Even as physical objects, there are only subtle differences between them. Each essentially grows from a tree; a fact society tends to ignore. People instinctually associate leaves with trees. Not only are they beautiful pieces of nature for visual pleasure, but leaves are also necessary for the survival of trees and other surrounding foliage. Although they produce the oxygen we breathe, we do not acknowledge their importance in our survival. Instead, we, like parasites, pierce their hosts, stealing material to produce our “critical” day-to-day resource, paper. Despite the world’s growing recycling habit, it will probably never be enough to save all trees from annihilation. How many people, when recycling a piece of paper, really think about the amazing wooden being initially sacrificed for it? When does it become real that something once living, decorated with leaves, is now dead for the sake of putting words or pictures on a page? When will we acknowledge that we are the nails penetrating the soft, tender, wood at the stake? We can take a moment of our day to imagine it all, but nothing we can think of will have as much impact as seeing our man-made resource nailed to a tree; slowly killing the tree’s beauty; causing its leaves, its sustenance, to drop dead to the hard ground below.

Photo Detail
Date Taken: 08.2014
Date Uploaded: 07.2015
Photo Location: Sylvania, Ohio, United States of America
Copyright: © allison clausius