This week we’re going to put the spotlight on the people who collect recyclable materials for a living, and without who many towns and cities would find their streets littered with junk, rubbish and recyclable waste. What brought their work to our attention was a talk we came across on the internet given by TED. TED is a set of conferences held across the globe, run by a non-profit organisation called the Sapling Foundation. Their cause is to spread ideas on a wide range of topics from science to business and including issues that affect society globally. (www.ted.com)
This particular talk highlighted the plight of Brazil’s “catadores”, but has equal relevance for many other countries both in the developing and developed world. They collect junk and recyclables, removing it from the city streets and taking it to places where it can be recycled. Amazingly 90% of Brazil’s recyclable waste is collected by these superheroes.
A graffiti artist by the name of Mundano was the speaker and he was describing his latest project “Pimp my Carroça” (the name given to the carts of these heroic workers). His idea is gaining momentum and set to become a global sensation. In 2007 he turned his artistic attention to the carts that are built from wood or metal found on the streets of Brazil. By adding humour and art to these otherwise invisible collectors of trash and their vehicles, he has boosted them to almost celebrity status.
He has so far painted more than 200 “carroças” in countries such as Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Turkey. Not forgetting more developed countries such as the United States and Japan. His movement has grown into large crowd funded events. The catadores are given assistance by professionals such as dentists, physicians, hairstylists, massage therapists and much more. Safety equipment such as raincoats, gloves, eyeglasses and shirts are given out while the carroças are renovated by a team of amazing volunteers.
In only 2 years this movement has helped more than 170 catadores. And more than 800 volunteers, 200 street artists and 1,000 donors have added their support to this fantastic movement. The contribution that catadores make to many different societies is now receiving the attention and praise that it truly deserves.
You can check Mundano’s spirited talk about his project at http://www.ted.com/talks/mundano_pimp_my_trash_cart