All images © Eduardi Leal
Eduardo Leal is a Portuguese documentary photographer focusing mainly on South East Asia. Previously he worked for several years in South America.
The world consumes one million plastic bags every minute. It is considered by the Guinness World Book of Records as “the biggest consumer item in the world.” But the ever-useful plastic bag has become the main source of pollution worldwide. It can be found everywhere on the planet, from the seaside to the bottom of the ocean to the Arctic. Even at the top of the world, on Mount Everest, you can find some plastic residue. Since most plastic isn’t biodegradable, it will last for hundreds of years in the natural environment.
Plastic Trees was made to call attention to this problem. The work focuses on the spread of plastic bags on the Bolivian Altiplano, where millions of bags travel with the wind until they get entangled in native bushes, marring the beautiful landscape.
''For years, I have been traveling to many different parts of the world but especially to developing countries in South America and Asia. While there, it always upset me to see so many beautiful places ruined because of the garbage that gathers in these spots—most of it being plastic bags.
So, I decided I wanted to do something to call attention to this problem. But I knew it would be difficult to photograph plastic bags, to turn them into an interesting visual subject that could engage the viewer. It took me years to find the right way so I could express what I felt. But once I had found the right place and approach, the work was quite straightforward''.