Archive for the ‘Trash Politics’ Category

Beyond the Beautiful Forever

Monday, January 7, 2013

Who wants to start a trash-themed book club?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Last month, the online magazine Narratively organized a trash week. Check out these pieces on New Yorkers who supplement their income by collecting and redeeming cansfreegans, and the adventures of a Freshkills junkie.


Photo by Michael Premo via Narratively

We send back music

Monday, December 10, 2012

Landfill Harmonic is a documentary filmed in Paraguay about an orchestra whose musicians—young residents of a slum built on top of a landfill—play instruments made from trash. Here’s the trailer, which opens with a beautiful quote from the orchestra director: “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” Gives me chills. I can’t wait for this film to be released.

Like the project on Facebook, here. Thanks for the tip, Brigitte. I am sure we’ll be posting more on this project as the film is released.

Stop Food Waste

Monday, December 10, 2012

The European Commission wants the people of Europe to cut down on food waste by not buying food they will toss. As you can tell from the video, they especially mean you, white people.

Dirty Bees

Friday, October 5, 2012

Inhabitat posted an amusing story today about honey in northeastern France mysteriously coming out green and blue. Turns out the bees over there have been feasting on waste from a nearby M&M’s factory, thus tinting their sweet byproduct.

Photo credit: Joelk75

And if still images aren’t enough, voici un vidéo. You really get a sense of the magnitude of the issue in motion picture.
This story cracks me up and reminds me of the similar mystery that plagued South Brooklyn a couple years ago, when it turned out our local bees were gorging on waste from a maraschino cherry factory in Red Hook.

Photo credit: Susan Dominus via the New York Times

Gross. Still more gross are the hits one gets when doing an Internet search for “contaminated honey.” More to come.

When garbology goes too far…

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Police in Sweden are on the lookout for a man who has been hiding in and on top of garbage trucks and filming sanitation workers. Not sure how they know, but officials say the man is sick, not an environmentalist or political trashie. Here’s hoping that if they do in fact bust him, a crazy Swedish documentary comes out of the confiscated footage.

Semi-related: I finally saw The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. Oh, those Swedes.


Trashing Lebanon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Al Jazeera English program Earthrise covers Lebanon’s trash mountain, Lebanese views on waste and consumption and the (B)IM Project performances featured here last Trashtastic Tuesday in the form of a Q&A with the creators.


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.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brazilian-born, New York-based artist Vik Muniz has set up his latest project in Rio de Janeiro, timed with Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Appropriately entitled Landscape, Muniz’ new work recreates Rio (the global capital of debate around the environment) entirely out of trash. You probably remember Muniz from the incredible documentary Waste Land.


Photo via the AP

As one whose day job revolves around international development, I was somewhat relieved not to have to go to Rio this week and participate in the organized chaos of assessing the state of sustainable development around the world. Women’s rights, my area of focus, don’t get much prominence on the agenda and I have many dutiful colleagues who trooped down to Latin America to remind world leaders that, as a Guatemalan colleague put it recently, “we can’t achieve sustainable development if women’s lives are unsustainable.”

Anyway, that is to say I was feeling pretty jaded and exhausted by the mere thought of all the hustle and bustle and tedious bureaucracy orbiting around a meeting of this size and pomp. Until I read about this new Vik Muniz endeavor. Suddenly, I’m jealous of all the activists and diplomats packed into conference rooms and pouring over the past twenty years of progress (or lack thereof) on issues of sustainability.  Those bastards get to slip out and visit amazing trash art projects! I wonder what other creative efforts environmentally-minded artists have cooked up for this occasion.

Are you in Rio? Send updates and photos, please!

Will eliminating trash trains eliminate Subway trash?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Yorkers, have you noticed fewer trash cans on your local platform? The MTA thinks getting rid of trash cans will reduce the need for subterranean garbage collection, thus speeding up late night operation.


Trash train, photo via

Yes, it’s devastating to be waiting late night, to hear that rumble of promise, only to discover it’s the freaking trash train. Delays suck. But really, will we throw less away just because we have no where to throw it? Sure, there’s evidence that if we don’t have trays to load up, we take less food in cafeterias. It seems like a leap, though, to apply the same logic to solid waste. Thoughts?

Women of Minyore

Monday, May 21, 2012

Over the weekend, AfriGadget shared this wonderful short documentary by the Kenya-based Dutch journalist Ruud Elmendorp on trashpicking craftswomen near Nakuru.

The women, including Lucy Wambui, featured in a video and report on Elmendorp’s site, collect plastic bags from the dump and weave them into marketable goods. In an area of the world ravaged by poverty, HIV, domestic abuse and drug addiction, these women are bettering their lives and educating the next generation on the income they earn selling recycled plastic. Lucy, for example, pays her grandson’s school fees with part of her income.

I find this piece particularly compelling because I have been to Nakuru, spent the night in the national park for which the area is famed and even spent a night in town without ever crossing paths with a community of trashpickers. Elmendorp’s shot of the dump site with flamingo lake in the background beautifully illustrates the contrast between the two worlds. It reminds me of this photo, which I shared here in 2010, taken from the shore of the same lake.

Lake Nakuru

How different the planet appears from the other side of the looking glass.

Sanitation Twins!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Monday, trashies!

Thanks for the tip, Elizabeth!

Eat the Recipe

Monday, April 9, 2012

I’ve seen this chic zero waste lasagne recipe printed straight onto the noodles in a few places recently. Kinda bobo, but I’m totally into it. I love that you can still read the words on the finished product.  Has anyone tried it?

Delicious design

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