Recycled treasures


A favela is seen through the rainy windows of a subway station.

Today Nickolai and I spent hours riding the subway and train with our translator, Kayam, in search of garbage collectors.

We first stopped under a bridge on João Moura street to look into a huge collection site, where trash is sorted. I was excited when we found the right spot because there was garbage everywhere. Bottles, shoes, cardboard and glass littered the site inhabited by three workers and a couple dogs, that we assume were infested with fleas. But after talking to a woman who organizes collections, we were told we couldn’t take pictures today.

A bit discouraged and already getting thirsty, we left João Moura and headed across town. I got my first glimpse of favelas, some of the most inhabited, but poorest communities in the city. After a long journey, we arrived at the home of Luiz Carlos, a 45-year-old man who doesn’t seem to waste anything.


Carlos works in his garden, as he does nearly every day when he’s not working as a car mechanic.

Over the years, Carlos has collected an assortment of unwanted items to decorate his garden. He has motorcycle helmets, dolls and mannequins, lights, posters and toys, just to name a few items.

A bird's eye view shows Carlos' garden where he collects unwanted items.

A bird’s eye view shows Carlos’ garden where he collects unwanted items.

Carlos painted a mural on the back wall of his garden to show the beauty of Sao Paulo and to promote world peace.

Carlos painted a mural on the back wall of his garden to show the beauty of São Paulo and to promote world peace.


Carlos lives in a small shack next to his garden. It was cramped and dark with a gravel floor in some areas — unlike any home I’ve ever seen in the U.S.

A broken-down guitar rests on Carlos' bed.

A broken-down guitar rests on Carlos’ bed.

While I wasn’t able to spend much time with Carlos, I plan to return within the next couple days. I’ll also explore a different trash collection site on Wednesday, and hopefully I’ll have better luck than I did today.

Until next time,

Cara Wilwerding.

About Cara Wilwerding
Cara Wilwerding is a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She grew up in Omaha, Neb and started her journalism career at Omaha Westside High School. She writes for the Daily Nebraskan’s arts and entertainment section in addition to taking photos. She’s also traveled to São Paulo, Brazil, for a similar photojournalism project with the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. This summer, she will work as an editorial and multimedia intern for, float down the Niobrara River and play a fair amount of ultimate frisbee. After graduating next spring, Wilwerding hopes to continue writing and photographing for an arts and entertainment publication.

One Response to Recycled treasures

  1. Ann P. Wilwerding says:

    How interesting, Cara. We can;t imagine living in a place like that but he looks happy. I guess it’s all perspective. Good look with your work tomorrow. Love, mom.

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