‘Recicladores’ is a common form of making money for poor and vulnerable people around the world. Rummaging through the rubbish and left overs of others for scraps that can be recycled and sold on for tiny amounts is a common way for people to survive.
In Bogota on the streets it is a daily occurrence to see a guy walking down the street, cart in tow with a whole variety of things behind him. Following the bin collection cycle around the city scrounging in left over bins, using shops to collect pieces of cardboard, or searching the streets for bottles/bottle tops to trade in. There is a whole variety out there of things to collect to earn a buck or two.
Some statistics suggest that 1% of the urban population in developing countries are involved in this informal way of recycling waste. Not by choice but a necessity to survive and they have a key role in the economy and helping the environment.
In Bogotá, a fast-growing mega-city with some 8 million people it is estimated that recyclers collect about 1,200 tonnes of waste per day. They divert recyclables away from Doña Juana, the only landfill of Bogota, to the recycling centers of the city.
‘Recicladores’ supply a constant flow of materials to Colombian companies. For example, recyclers sell water bottles to businesses, where they are sometimes used to produce similar products or even jeans or other clothing.
In addition to helping the economy, this also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste and avoiding the exploitation of raw materials. In many developing countries recyclable materials go to incinerators, polluting the air. Most domestic waste produced in the southern hemisphere is organic or reusable and does not need to be burned. The burning of recyclable materials such as plastic can emit dioxins, a carcinogen that remains in the environment for long periods of time. Non-recycled materials can also end up in water or in natural habitats, threatening biodiversity.
What’s it really like for these people. One can find it hard to imagine. Often with families to take care of, drug problems in communities rife, living conditions poor. And the irony is that it is actually a service that in our throwaway culture of the west which is needed now more than ever.So why this topic. Our latest project is a fundraising for an initiative ‘Casa de Los Suenos’ that takes in on average 45 children of recicladores 6 days a week, providing them with a safe, clean, supportive and consistent environment that can help gain some form of stability in their lives. Within the chaos of these little ones lives it is so so important to provide some stability and a safe place to grow, develop and connect with others. Check out our latest project to find more about it.