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Story Publication logo August 5, 2011

A Cartonero's Daily Route

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The trash pickers of Buenos Aires are an unsanctioned but accepted part of city life. Now the...

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28-year-old Marissa Aguilera is a cartonero in Buenos Aires. Her house is but one room where she, her three children and her 66 year-old mother sleep in two beds. They have lived in this one room home for 31 years.

Marissa is part of Movimiento de los Trabajadores Excluidos, the largest and most organized cartonero cooperative. It mostly works with those who live south of Buenos Aires.

On the streets of Buenos Aires, the cartoneros go their own way searching for treasure. Store owners wait for well-established cartoneros like Marissa to come by before bringing out their recyclables. More often, however, the cartonero's job involves tearing open the bags of trash residents leave out on the sidewalk.

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