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It’s easy to get into the habit of buying everything you need off the shelf, and certainly, I am guilty of that more often than not. But still, if you can make treasure from trash, then you are a hero.


Landfill Harmonic The Movie

Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary about a remarkable orchestra from a remote village in Paraguay, where its young musicians play with instruments made from trash. []

Support Landfill Harmonic by liking their page on Facebook, find out about the movie, and see it.

Ada and her violin | landfill Harmonic
Ada and her recycled violin | Image credit: Landfill Harmonic

Cateura, Paraguay is a town essentially built on top of a landfill. Garbage collectors browse the trash for sellable goods, and children are often at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs. When orchestra director Szaran and music teacher Fabio set up a music program for the kids of Cateura, they soon have more students than they have instruments.

That changed when Szaran and Fabio were b

rought something they had never seen before: a violin made out of garbage. Today, there’s an entire orchestra of assembled instruments, now called The Recycled Orchestra.

Our film shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings. [Landfill Harmonic on Facebook]



Here in Reno, Nevada, we put trash in one bin, glass recycling in another and plastic and metal in another. In a lot of places in California, you put out one bin with everything in it and that all gets sorted by paid employees and machines. In Asuncion, Paraguay, it’s all done by individuals who sell what they salvage to make a living.

Asunción, with a population of just over a half-million people, generates about 1,000 tonnes of waste daily, of which 95 percent goes to the Cateura municipal landfill.

According to figures from the government’s planning office, the average rate of solid waste production in urban areas across Paraguay in 2002 was about one kilo per person per day.

There are more and more recycling workers on the streets and in the landfills. In the area surrounding the Cateura landfill, located south of Asunción, an estimated 1,000 “gancheros” live and work, known for the hooks, “ganchos”, they use to manipulate the materials. These workers are at high-risk for health problems.

In Paraguay, one of the poorest countries and one with highest economic disparities in the Americas, about 40 percent of its 6.3 million people live in relative or extreme poverty. []



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