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Jon Goering | Los cartoneros

Posted on September 12, 2011 by Julia Schiller

“As night falls on Buenos Aires, the city’s cartoneros comb the streets collecting the recyclables. Most pull simple two-wheeled carts and walk their route day after day, piling the carts high above their heads and wheeling them to the recycling centers. There they collect for their work, slowly scrounging together a living using the city’s waste.

Networks of waste pickers exist the world over. Humans taxed with scavenging a life from other’s garbage. In Argentina, it was the economic crisis of the late 1990s and early 2000s that forced many into this work. And though the cartoneros life is not an easy one, this network of collectors is considered by many to be the most advanced of its kind. It stands in stark contrast to other countries where the waste pickers live and work in the dumps.

This project is a chapter in an ongoing exploration of how societies in general or specific individuals are making a living out of waste. It builds upon an essay I worked on about life in the Chinandega, Nicaragua landfill, where entire families live and work at the dump as waste pickers.

I am currently working on another chapter, an essay about an artist outside of Birmingham, Alabama who has had works of art made out of trash exhibited at the Smithsonian.”

Jon Goering is a photojournalist currently living in Birmingham, Alabama. He studied journalism at the University of Kansas, where he moved to after spending two years working and traveling in East Africa. He hopes to soon relocate with his small half-Ethiopian, half-American family back to Addis Ababa.

For the full essays on waste pickers, please visit www.jkgphoto.com.

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