The Rich, the Poor and the Trash

DW Transtel | 86 4905
1 x 30 min

Trash is a symbol of our times. The amount we generate and the way we deal with it speak volumes about our consumption patterns and level of prosperity – and also about social inequality. The rich consume much more than the poor and produce much more waste. But what some people throw away, others need to survive. Godwin Ochieng lives in Dandora, a poor suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, where one of the largest dumpsites in Africa is located. He spends his days combing through endless piles of garbage, brought in by the truckload from the city’s wealthier districts, in the hope of finding something to sell: for him, the mountain of trash is a lifeline. Meanwhile, halfway around the globe in one of the world’s richest and most expensive cities, Pierre Simmons combs the streets of New York for cans he can sell to recycling companies. Both men live in countries where the gap between rich and poor is vast. But the economic and social disparities between the US and Kenya are also huge. Economists Lucas Chancel and Kate Raworth warn against the consequences of huge imbalances at both the national and international levels. They argue that they poses a great danger to our entire system of values, to our understanding of democracy and to our economy.

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