Business, Finance & Economics

Recycling for Argentina's poor

Downtown Buenos Aires looks a little like Paris with tree lined streets and cafes and every street crowned with cars and busses. But some of the big differences between Buenos Aires and Paris or New York is that garbage is picked up six nights a week. There are also swarms of people that spend their evenings scavenging. On nearly every block of this city of 14 million there are people like this man who goes downtown when garbage gets put out on the sidewalk before the sanitation workers arrive at 6:00 PM. He scavenges through garbage bags. The man says we live like this, gathering whatever we can that can be resold to recycling companies here. Six the economic collapse here six years ago, there have been many more of these collectors. While the economy has rebounded, those people haven't. police and local residents hassle the scavengers. But in a neighborhood called Palermo nearby there is a ray of hope in a cooperative of recyclers. This man says we work without going through other people's garbage. The organization tries to change attitudes and give the scavengers a little more dignity on the part of his neighbors in Palermo and with the recyclers as well. This man makes house calls. When he rings bells the home owner or doorman brings out recyclables separated from the other garbage. Everybody is happy. Right now the organization is made up of four families who collectively own a formerly abandoned building. The children go to school and get health care and don't work and have dignity.

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