Metro World News, which is published in 18 countries, profiled Kelly Maby ’09 for her work studying trash picking in Egypt, Brazil, Guatemala and Ecuador.
Last spring, Maby won a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship (a $28,000 award) to support her research of the informal waste collection systems that have developed in several countries. Many people have turned to scavenging to survive or to rebel against consumerism— sometimes even creating elaborate networks that compete with formal waste-management systems.
The Metro story noted that scavenging has been a longtime interest for Maby.
“When I was around eight years old, my family wasn’t doing so well, so my brother and I collected beer cans and bottles,” she told the newspaper. “We actually thought it was fun.”
She added that while most people think of picking through trash as a sign of desperate poverty, scavenging in these countries “often is well organized.”
“It is dirty,” said Maby, a double major in Hispanic studies and sociology. “But without scavengers many cities would have no waste management at all.”