Dreaming of Garbage
On Saturday I attended a screening of the film Garbage Dreams at the Chicago Cultural Center. The film is a gentle portrait of three young men who are learning the traditional garbage collecting trade of the Zaballeen, the waste collecting caste of Cairo.
A city of 18 million, Cairo has no formal garbage collection service, just the diligent efforts of the Zaballeen, who haul the refuse back to their homes to sort out the food waste, rags, and recyclables. With these lo-tech methods, they are able to boast recycling rates near 80% and earn a small income.
But Cairo dreams of entering the modern world, with a modern trash handling system. Multi-national waste hauling companies are winning contracts to whisk the city's garbage away to new landfills. How will the Zaballeen survive without their traditional business? Can they compete with the modern throwaway world? You will have to see the film to find out.
Garbage Dreams will be shown on PBS in April. Check your local station for times.