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Landfill Harmonic: Another Look

This is a story about a town in Paraguay built on a pile of rubbish. Its residents routinely sort through their landfill to find recyclables, but in this case they ended up finding something much more valuable. Ordinarily an oil can and a piece of wood wouldn’t amount to much. But, with a little creativity this oil became something of value that helped a young aspiring musician pursue his dreams regardless of his socio-economic status.

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This is a story about a town in Paraguay built on a pile of rubbish. Its residents routinely sort through their landfill to find recyclables, but in this case they ended up finding something much more valuable. Ordinarily an oil can and a piece of wood wouldn’t amount to much. But, with a little creativity this oil became something of value that helped a young aspiring musician pursue his dreams regardless of his socio-economic status.

People realize that they shouldn’t throw away trash carelessly. Well, we shouldn’t throw away people either.

In the community of Cateura where a violin costs more than a house, instruments are just too costly. So objects found in the landfill are fastened into something beautiful – an oil can becomes the body of a cello, the wood is transformed into the neck and the pegs are comprised of old kitchen tools.

Now, 19-year-old Juan Manuel Chavez (better known as Bebi) can play his cello and pursue what he really loves. Bebi is part of the Recycled Orchestra – an orchestra in Cateura that performs with instruments made out of trash. His fellow musicians play violins, flutes and clarinets, all ingeniously made out of scraps from the landfill.

Below is the film-teaser for the feature length documentary Landfill Harmonic about this inspirational group of people who don’t let their socio-economic status get in the way of their aspirations. Not only are the Cateura residents innovative, but they may be setting the precedent for future instrument-making, and are enlightening us about the use of recyclables. After all, a recycled instrument is brought to life by its musician and sounds just like its non-recycled counterpart. It just isn’t enough to be recycling. We now have to take it one step further and be more creative with recycling, regardless of whether or not we live on a landfill, because we all live on the same planet that we have to take care of.