The rich, the poor and the trash | Close up - The Current Affairs Documentary | DW | 17.11.2018
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The rich, the poor and the trash

Trash is a symbol of our times. How we deal with it speaks volumes about our consumption and prosperity - and our levels of social inequality. What some throw away, others need to survive. The filmmakers meet people working with and living off trash.

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In the documentary, "The Rich, the Poor and the Trash,” co-directors Naomi Phillips and Thomas Hasel explore the lives of people both working with and living off trash. Twenty-eight-year-old Godwin Ochieng lives in Dandora, a slum in Kenya, where one of the largest dumpsites in Africa is located. He spends his days combing through endless piles of garbage coming in 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 social gap between the US and Kenya is also huge. Economists Lucas Chancel and Kate Raworth warn against the consequences of a huge imbalance at both the national and international levels. They believe it poses a great danger to our entire system of values in the West, to our understanding of democracy and, ultimately, to our economy.