Loading...
Garbage Dreams
Now Watching
Garbage Dreams

Cairo's Zaballeen—Arabic for "garbage people"—recycle nearly all the trash they collect, maintaining what could be the world's most efficient waste disposal system. Foreign competition is threatening this community of ecologically minded trash entrepreneurs, which has a lot it could teach the rest of the world about waste management.

Flash Player 9.0.115+ or HTML5 video support is required to play this video.
 
Loading...

Produced and directed by Mai Iskander.

Learn more about the full-length documentary "Garbage Dreams."

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

Loading...

Share this video

Include start time Get current time
Include related videos, articles & actions
Loading...

Segment 1

TITLE
Cairo
ADHAM [Garbage collector]
If there weren't any garbage collectors, Cairo wouldn't be clean. I once went into Cairo to collect trash. I realized everyone was well dressed, but I wasn't. So, I was a bit upset. But I must live with this. It's my fate.
TITLE
Garbage Dreams
ADHAM
Everyday, we pick up trash from residents. Then, we bring it to our neighborhood.
SINGING
We are the garbage collectors. Always blessed. We are the garbage collectors, the Zaballeen, the Zaballeen.
LAILA [Community Social Worker]
Everyone here works in garbage.
VOICE
We recycle everything.
ADHAM
Here, we recycle 80 percent of what we collect. But abroad, they only recycle 30 percent and bury the rest in landfills. Companies began coming in from abroad.
LAILA
The city contracted with foreign waste disposal companies because they perceive the Zaballeen to be old-fashioned.
ADHAM
Of course, I'm furious. They will bury all our garbage.
TITLE
The Recycling School
LAILA
This school teaches new ways of thinking so our kids can fight for a better future.
ADHAM
I think if I became educated, I could develop the whole trade. My school wants to send me abroad to see how foreign societies work.
TITLE
Wales
ADHAM
I finally get to see the world.
ADHAM [to recycling plant worker]
But this can be recycled. It doesn't matter if it's big or small. This should be recycled! So, this is the end of it!
WOMAN
This is going to go a landfill. This is going to go to a hole in the earth.
ADHAM
It's obvious we're the leaders in our field.
LAILA
We care about garbage more than the foreign companies.
MALE ZABALLEEN
Residents want to recycle, but the foreign company could care less.
LAILA
We must demand our rights! We need to speak out!