In the early evening Osvaldo rides a bus from his shantytown to one of the nicest neighborhoods in Lima – Miraflores. Here he will walk the streets for hours, searching through the garbage of Lima’s upper class. He finds an old picture frame that doesn’t look special to me. He peels the front of the frame off. It’s silver and will fetch him around $20. Later he finds a watch that looks new. His eyes light up and he smiles, something he doesn’t do often.
After about 8 hours of scavenging Osvaldo calls a cab and hauls his treasures to La Parada – one of Lima’s best known street markets where stolen goods are sold alongside items from Lima’s trash. It’s a rough place. Osvaldo gives a second life to many of the items thrown away in Miraflores. He also collects metal, plastic bottles and newspaper to recycle – stuff that would otherwise go straight to the landfill.
Trash that isn’t trash gives Osvaldo his income. Districts are slowly starting to adopt recycling programs in Lima. Some programs are doing their best to include recyclers like Osvaldo. Others are shutting them out and making it hard for them to make a living.
I took these pictures for an on-going project about recycling in Lima that Oscar and I are working on. If you are in Lima this month, check out Oscar’s exhibit – The Value of the Invisible. If you aren’t in Lima you can still watch the video.