“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Roosevelt

“People sometimes say ‘But one single can?’ One single can is of great importance. Because 99 is not 100, and that single one will make the difference.”

The documentary, Waste Land, is about the lives of garbage pickers in Rio de Janeiro. Before I saw this film, I was blinded to such a lifestyle. I was amazed at the art Vik Muniz created with the recycled material, but I was more in awe of the people accustomed to this life. The money collected from the art pieces went back to the community; helping the pickers purchase equipment and build a better community, eventually leaving the life of picking garbage behind. Projects like this make me feel like there are still good people in the world that want to help. We’re all capable, we just all don’t choose to participate.

The poverty-stricken women in the documentary allude that they have two choices in life (in terms of making a living), to be a prostitute or to become a garbage picker. The pickers go to work everyday and sort through the heaps of garbage in order to find recyclable materials. This is their income – big black plastic bags filled with plastic and glass bottles to be sold to recycling centers. At times, trucks of recycled material will be stolen and all the effort from the day will have been useless. Contracting Hepatitis B, bronchitis, body injuries and lifelong illness are just a few of the risks – would it be worth it to you? The pickers choose this life. Earning only a few dollars a day at times, they choose to live an honest life. They choose to sort through a land fill all day instead of becoming prostitutes. They choose to risk having diseases instead of resorting to burglary.

Their options are limited, ours are not. I think a lot of people don’t realize the options they have in life. In all reality, we can choose to do/become anything we want. And I don’t think enough people take advantage of this privilege. Explore options, do whatever you want.

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Roosevelt (Does this have a little more meaning now?)


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