‘n Leeg karton melk gemeng met die vrot mif van gister se vullis, my stront vermis, haar brood en botter.
Waste picker, scavenger, trolley pusher or skurreler - these are just a few of the names associated with the ‘invisible’ environmentalists of the world. Landfill and street waste pickers in South Africa are responsible for collecting substantial volumes of recyclable material, diverting 90% of the 10% of waste that is recycled away from the country’s landfills saving municipalities millions and contributing to a cleaner and safer environment, by reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite this, waste pickers continue to operate on the periphery of the economy, living and working in poor conditions that leave them exposed to many risks, particularly health risks, which affect the sustainability of their livelihoods. The informal nature of waste picking is well known, but it is often seen as a primary source of income rather than just an activity. The very definition of trash is often based on what it's not-- it is unwanted, discarded, leftover, useless to those who throw it away, yet waste pickers redefine trash as an inert residue of consumer society, in order to re-conceptualize waste as a living, malleable, universal, temporal system through which humans process and extract value from matter to varying degrees. In this sense an object can truly only be regarded as a waste when the owner labels it as such, as a substance regarded as a waste by one individual may be a resource to another.
Keywords: Waste Picker