When the evening comes and the degrees drop below zero, only the harsh cold is left lingering in the night, together with men, women, and children trying to make ends meet.
We are gathered under a bridge, in what we are told is a “more fortunate” part of the city, where the local recyclers are finishing their day of looking for any sign of waste plastic, glass bottles, and cardboard.
Dozens of recycling carts pull up to separate what they found, so they can resell it for a handful of pesos.
Whole families participate in the endeavor; the parents wade through the garbage as little ones wait in the cart, playing among the rubbish. Recycling became a generational pattern of making an income that can serve to have shelter and food at least for a day.
To carry so much waste; Bogota produces nearly 7,500 tons of waste every day… is a burden many must carry on their shoulders, figuratively and literally. As few can afford a motorized vehicle, it is people who do the heavy lifting, pulling their carts for kilometers every day. This way, 16 percent of the waste in Bogota is recycled.
“In 2020, according to the Bogota city council, 25,000 of the capital’s eight million inhabitants worked as informal recyclers.”– Recent report prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation