Community Cinema Screening of Garbage Dreams in Houston

Posted on January 21, 2010

Producing Partners are local community organizations that co-present Community Cinema screenings across the country. Last night, HoustonPBS screened the Independent Lens film Garbage DreamsFilmed over four years, the film follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world's largest garbage village, a ghetto located on the outskirts of Cairo. Manar Hindi, Community Cinema assistant coordinator, talks about the event and how she'll never look at trash the same way again.

I’ve always wondered what happens with my trash. It seems to magically disappear each week and I don’t really have any idea what happens to it or what impact it has on my community. Well that all changed last night. What I learned at the HoustonPBS Community Cinema screening of Garbage Dreams was fascinating. Houston recycles about 22 percent of its solid waste. While the number shows an improvement, we still lag behind cities like Portland (63 percent) and San Francisco (72 percent). Harry Hayes, director of the city’s Solid Waste Management Department, said that one of the things needed to increase the number of people recycling in Houston is legislation. He talked about how people in San Francisco are fined if they don’t recycle properly. He said if people are really concerned about recycling they need to contact their elected officials. One audience member asked what he could do to implement a recycling plan in his apartment building, since there was no real precedent for him to follow. Mr. Hayes’ answer was that there was no “curbside” pick up currently for apartment building, so his suggestion was to speak with the owner’s of the apartment building about possibly hiring a private company to collect and haul the recyclables away.

Another major concern was the question of how to encourage others to begin recycling when they are so used to throwing their garbage away with no thought or concern as to what happens to it. Our other two guest speakers, Cindy Yepez of the Houston Green Scene, and Dr. H.C Clark, professor at Rice University, both commented on the economic advantages of recycling. Businesses that used leftover home improvement materials to create new, stylish home good (countertops for instance) were booming. There are even more jobs and an even bigger market in the collecting and reusing of recyclables. After the panel discussion many of the more vocal audience members hung back and chatted with us and our panelists. Some wanted to start their own recycling plans in their neighborhoods and wondered where to start while others just thanked us for providing an arena to bring these important issues to our communities. I have a feeling after watching Garbage Dreams and participating in the discussion, they won’t look at trash the same way ever again… I know I won’t. 

-Manar Hindi Assistant Coordinator of Community Cinema


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