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The Green Life: Landfill Harmonic: Making Music Out of Trash

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June 03, 2013

Landfill Harmonic: Making Music Out of Trash

Landfill Harmonic

This documentary project brings a whole new meaning to the term “trashy music.”

Landfill Harmonic is a movie-in-the-making about “The Recycled Orchestra,” a children’s orchestra in a Paraguayan shantytown that plays instruments made completely from garbage. In Cateura, Paraguay, a slum located atop a landfill site, there are few prospects for children living in extreme poverty.

According to orchestra director Favio Chavez, “There were a lot of drugs, alcohol, violence, child labor — a lot of situations that you wouldn’t think are favorable for kids to learn values.”

However, the formation of this orchestra allows the children of this community to have a creative outlet through their hostile, polluted environment. This film has not only given children the chance to learn and grow through music, but also allows them to transform waste into something beautiful.

As Chavez says, “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.”

Landfill Harmonic raises awareness about poverty and waste pollution; two important issues that greatly affect the residents of Cateura.

Since November 2012, the film’s teaser video has gone viral with over three million views worldwide. The documentary follows Chavez, the orchestra director, three students in the orchestra called Maria, Ada and Tania, and a garbage collector named Cola who makes the instruments. Though the film will not be released until 2014, Landfill Harmonic has already started to bring light to the frequently overlooked issue concerning garbage disposal in Paraguay. Founder and Executive Producer Alejandra Nash highlights the unsanitary conditions that slum-dwellers and other neglected communities in Paraguay have to endure in their daily life.

“The immediate need to undertake the environmental issues are unfortunately very slow,” says Nash. “It has to begin with the implementation of a strong educational process and programs that will tackle specific issues.”

Solid waste in the landfill comes from metropolitan areas and outskirts of Cateura, especially since the slums do not have a garbage disposal system in place. This has led to a build-up of waste, which is poorly covered by soil and sand. Due to a lack of space, people have built their houses on these landfills and alongside a polluted creek, which is filled with chemical pollutants and dangerous objects. Furthermore, for these communities, landfills are a resource from which people use materials to build houses and other necessities.

Nevertheless, the children of the Recycled Orchestra have made the best out of their meager conditions. This inspiring example of recycling and reusing provides a new source of hope for the general audience, especially the youth. It reminds them about the importance of the future, whether it is in regards to their own personal growth or the environmental conditions for future generations.

Check out the teaser video below...


--Image from Landfill Harmonics

Ailsa Sachdev is an editorial intern at Sierra. She is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College and spent the last three months studying abroad in Morocco.


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