Men and women that value what we see as useless, known as informal waste pickers. You can find them bright and early on waste collection day, going through refusal bags in search of recyclable waste or any valuable items.
They are often referred to as “scavengers” and seen as a “problem” by neighborhood watch groups. However, none of this is true, well according to research and observations.
Informal waste pickers save the environment by minimizing the amount of waste that ends up in landfill sites. From a waste management point of view that is an exceptional task as they decrease the rate at which the landfill site will reach its maximum capacity.
By exchanging recyclable waste for money at recycling centers, informal waste pickers decrease the need for raw materials to be used in manufacturing new objects such as bottles, paper, and glasses.
With plastic pollution in oceans such an immense environmental problem, informal waste pickers can minimize this by reducing the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean.
Informal waste pickers do an honorable job of saving the environment and making a living from it. Although it would not make it in the list of “top 100 careers” the work they do is imperative.
Unfortunately, they do not work in the safest conditions and are at a high risk of injury or contracting diseases due to the absence of personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks.
How can we help?
By separating our waste, we can minimize their risk of getting hurt or sick as they will no longer have to search for the recyclable material through the mixture of household waste. The separated waste can be placed in a different plastic or box at no exorbitant cost to us. Small differences amount to significant differences in the end.
Informal waste pickers should be treated with respect and they too have a right to safety. They are men and women trying to make a living and are saving the environment while doing that.
Be kind and stay safe