Silvia Resende Xavier, Luciana dos Santos Duarte


The possibility of recovering discarded materials and selling them for revenue leads many individuals worldwide to engage in waste collection. This situation is observed in New York City, where waste pickers collect discarded beverage containers in the streets. Although contributing to recycling in the city, these workers face political and social obstacles. This study aims to investigate actions that support waste pickers worldwide, as well as their potential for exchange. Some specific goals are to examine the development of a Brazilian project in the context of recycling in the USA, and to evaluate the social and environmental outcomes of a design and art collaborative action. The methodology for this research-and-practice based study comprises a theoretical review, a field research to gather qualitative data, and a case study of an action promoted within the scope of this work. When analysing the results of this study, the contribution of design and art action is evidenced, and three important findings are highlighted: the relevance of a sense of identity for waste pickers; the importance of waste pickers being visible within the urban environment; and the potential for changes in the interactions between waste pickers and other citizens. Finally, this study accomplishes the goals of employing design and art to promote a socio-environmental action based on a collaborative model, and of evaluating the outcomes of this experience exchange between a Brazilian project and a NYC based organization.


Waste management; Recycling; Waste pickers; Collaborative action; Social design

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Advanced Sciences