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Our neighborhood Recycle Man

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Sorry for the bad photo, best angle I could get

All neighborhoods have them, they probably have a few (it seems we do).  When we first moved here, I looked out our window and saw a large dumpster in the street (across the street was doing construction).  Some guys came and went through the bin, VERY thoroughly and took everything recyclable or semi usable out.  They were pulling hand carts, and my lil’ American mind thought, oh how interesting the government recycling guys.

So now that I’ve been here longer, I’m a little more aware.  These are the guys I always saw in downtown LA or at the beaches in Hawaii digging for plastic bottles and cans to recycle.  Except these guys take it to the Brazilian extreme. They’ve got the jeito going on.

See, our building even asks us to separate out our recyclables and I think sets them out for these guys.  I’ve noticed around town, all of the cardboard laid out for these guys.  Businesses hand them their boxes for them to recycle it.  It’s not just dumpster diving, they’ve got a symbiotic relationship going on with those with money.

I feel bad, as really how much could they be pulling in with recycling, compared to how much they’re pulling around on these handcarts.  But I also really respect them, and others who go out and try and find a way to make money.


About scrubgrub

I'm just another soul on the internet, posting random thoughts into the ether, because well I love stumbling on other peoples random thoughts, so I figured why not add mine to the mix too. I'm also the mom to two very funny little boys, and how can you not share that with everyone?

4 responses »

  1. Dear Scrubgrub,

    The city of Sao Paulo has a sophisticated recycling system. Different trucks go around the neighborhoods and collect different things all previously selected such as plastic, cardboard, aluminum, glass. There is a monthly collection for batteries and lamps that can leak mercury. There is a monthly collection for old/broken furniture, appliances, computers, rugs and other large items and etc…
    These guys usually live in slums and collect whatever they can grab and fit in their push carts before the city trucks come by. They are slowly disappearing along with the slums that are giving space to new condos and Malls. You must have a slum somewhere nearby, because they usually go around walking distance from where they live.
    You just won’t find them in neighborhoods that have extinguished the slums because it’s either too far for them or too much traffic for them to maneuver their push carts filled with junk.


    • Morumbi’s favela is across the river. I’m assuming that’s where they’re coming from as Favela Niagra on google maps doesn’t exist anymore, and I don’t really see any others around here.

  2. Yeap, I think you are right. Their days are counted. There are most likely poor migrants from parts of the Northeast of Brazil. Not compatible with the big city.
    I had one hit my ubber expensive “rental” Ford Fusion from Hertz on Avenida Santo Amaro last time I was in Sao Paulo and I almost had a heart attack. Avenida Santo Amaro is too narrow for cars, trucks, buses and these frigging carts with junk. He hit me with the part of his push cart that had a tire attached and didn’t do any damage, just a big scare and raised my blood pressure a couple notches. They have to go.
    I heard the city is planning to vote on a new law to make them illegal all over the city. The push carts are already illegal in many parts of Sao Paulo.


    • Ray I cannot agree with your thoughts at all. First off, they could just as easily be the uneducated poor born and raised in Sao Paulo. I’ve found Northeasterners to be very kind and hard working people. The dislike of most in Sao Paulo and Rio against Northeasterners really bothers me. But I get it they’re the immigrants right now. The immigrants that are allowing the rich of Sao Paulo to have their cheap labor. If people were paid more here, you would see fewer slums, if the education system improved here, you would see fewer slums. Either the lowest class, doing the jobs no one else wants start to get paid more, or (more likely) they move up to better positions as they educate themselves, and a new set of immigrants fill their place– maybe from outside of Brasil. In downtown LA everyone wanted to get rid of all the bums (they were mostly people mentally unstable or on drugs) that were at the homeless shelters that were all located downtown. The thing is, all the shelters ended up downtown because no one cared about downtown, and then when all of us rich yuppies moved in, we decided the property was valuable and they all needed to go… but where do they go? Which community do we decide is poor enough to take them in, that won’t affect the rich. So for now, downtown LA is like Sao Paulo, slums just a few streets away from the super wealthy…except in LA the ones downtown aren’t trying to make something of their lives, and support families like the people in the slums do here.


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