Archive for July, 2012

All Women Waste Workers

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Feeling philanthropic? Rolando Politi, founder of the Yanbuki trash worshipers, has launched a fundraising campaign to support a project with women rag pickers in Delhi, India. The idea: teach the members of the women’s waste workers cooperative to make and sell trash art.

Trash flowers

The campaign states two aims, to generate income for the women and to destigmatize their work by creating something positive from the materials they collect.

For more on waste, recycling and the informal industry of rag picking in Delhi, check out the documentary Delhi Waste Wars.

Zabaleen, the movie

Friday, July 20, 2012

A new documentary on the trash picking  Zabaleen community of Cairo may peak the horizon. REORIENT, an online magazine featuring Middle Eastern arts and culture,  this week profiles director and cinematographer Justin Kramer on the two-and-a-half year process of shooting Zabaleen.

photo via REORIENT

Kramer tells the reporter:

I had to spend a lot of time with these families before they trusted me enough. They’re very marginalised. What they do is sort of taboo, and they were reluctant to open up to an American guy who barely speaks the same language’

A moving and naturally-paced excerpt of the film entitled “Mourad’s Morning” can be viewed on VIMEO, which includes the following description:

Mourad’s mornings are all the same. He wakes up at 2am. Then, he fights to get his sons out of bed for an hour before leaving late for his garbage route in Shoubra.

This piece was submitted and accepted into Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School in London March 2011.

Sounds very promising.

A now-completed Kickstarter campaign includes a brief video message from Kramer and cites the blog The Zabaleen Project as the documentary’s website. It appears to be an interesting compilation of Zabaleen news, including an automated filter for the latest #zabaleen tweets.

Here’s hoping the final product makes the rounds on the film festival circuit and makes its way to screenings we can all attend. In the meantime,  to bone up on Zabaleen issues, check out:

  •’s review of the documentary Garbage Dreams,
  • my Q & A with that film’s director,
  • the sad incident a few years ago when the government killed all the Zabaleen’s pigs,
  • NPR’s coverage of the Zabaleen solar cities, and
  • an update on the Garbage Dream boys via an exclusive  interview with an correspondent.

Trash Spectacles in Lebanon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today we revive the long dormant weekly feature, Trashtastic Tuesday, with an inspiring performance series. The (B)IM Project, short for books in motion, cites as its mission “to make theatre accessible in Lebanon by performing for free, in site -specific locations across Lebanon.”


The company’s latest project is called “10453: A Story About Life in 1 km2 of Trash.” Kindly, writer/director Camille Brunel Aoun and Producer Denise Maroney agreed to answer a few questions for

everydaytrash: What is “10453: A Story About Life in 1 km2 of Trash”? How did the project come about? 

The (B)IM Project: 10453 is a theatrical performance that combine dance, mime, clown, text and images related to the nightmare of our everyday life surrounded by trash. The play is a journey through the life and habits of 5 characters who deal with garbage, both consciously and unconsciously. The play offers metaphors for the absurdity of a society that ignores the dirt it is breathing in every day and the danger it is creating for itself.

The title “10453” references the official square area of Lebanon ( 10,453 km2). We added an extra kilometer (10453) to allude to the growing kilometers of trash that are popping up across Lebanon’s coast (e.g. Saida trash mountain; Google it, if you don’t already know about it, you’ll be horrified!)

Group scene

The project began in 2011, when producer Denise Maroney was awarded a grant from the Theatre Communications Group to workshop a theatrical production in Lebanon, pertaining to the Mediterranean Sea. During this period, Maroney spent time examining topics related to Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast. The abundance of trash found on beaches and in the sea struck a chord. With director/writer Camille Brunel Aoun, the two began imagining a performance that would spotlight trash and question human behavior relating to waste.

everydaytrash: Where will the tour take the performance?

(B)IM: We began with performances on the boardwalks of major cities in Lebanon- Tyre, Sidon and Beirut. The boardwalks offered an appropriate location: a public, accessible place where land and sea meet. The backdrop of the sea provided a stunning effect and resonated within the story.

We are currently preparing to present this play in various festivals across Lebanon during Ramadan. In the fall, we hope to perform in schools and indoor theatres across Lebanon. And of course, we will be looking for opportunities to take this play into international theatre festivals!


everydaytrash: Several of your past performances have incorporated trash and recycled material, what do you see as the connections between theater and waste? Are there particular connections for Lebanese or more generally Middle Eastern societies?

Theater offers a space to re-imagine ‘waste.’ Lebanon, in particular, is a country surrounded by waste, namely rubble from post war de/re-construction and heaps of abandoned trash.  By animating discarded material from the society we are living in, we are opening up imaginations and inviting our audience to creatively examine their environmental space.

One can also approach the relationship between theater and waste through the lens of legendary Polish director, Jerzy Grotowsky, and his ideas of a poor theatre:  “Theatre must recognize its proper limitations. If the stage cannot be richer than cinema, let it then be poor. If it cannot be as lavish as television, let it be ascetic.”  Thus, we use what surrounds us to create theatre. At the end of the day, you can create for a very low cost. It’s a positive and magical act to create “something” from very little.

Beach trash scene in Saida

everydaytrash:  What’s next for The (B)IM  Project?

(B)IM: We’re going to live with this play for a while… performing in different venues across Lebanon. Eventually, we want to perform it beyond Lebanon’s borders. Whether we tour in neighboring Middle Eastern countries, or beyond, 10453 is a play relevant to all citizens on this Earth.

Summer Reading List

Friday, July 6, 2012

Trash wonks, prepare for your dirty little hearts to explode. Discard Studies, the online hub for scholarly waste, just posted a meta reading list that should keep you occupied all summer and many seasons to come. It’s a compilation of syllabi from your favorite trashademics.

I can’t wait to dig through the course reading assignments from garbology classes taught at NYU, Evergreen, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley and other institutions for classes with amazing titles including: “The Joy of Garbage,” “Fetishist, Collector, Hoarder,” and “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Politics: Sex, Drugs, and Garbage.”

What a resource!

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