Landfill Harmonic: Making Music From Trash in a Paraguay Slum

In a slum in Paraguay, a new orchestra for children has been been filled with instruments built from trash.

Cateura, Paraguay, is a town built on a landfill. Every day, 1,500 tons of new solid waste shows up in garbage trucks. Many of the town's residents work at the landfill—including kids. There isn't much else to do. Favio Chavez, who works as an ecological technician at the landfill, wanted to offer something more for young people, and decided to start designing violins, cellos, and other instruments from trash.

The resulting "Recycled Orchestra" was so popular that it quickly had more students than instruments. The students are beginning to take tours around the world. Now, filmmakers are working on a new documentary, out in 2014, to tell their tale.


It's a great story. And it's a reminder that we need bigger solutions, too: How can we redesign products and systems so landfills aren't overflowing? How can slums be redesigned, and how can communities like this one have economic opportunities that go beyond dealing with garbage?

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Screenshot via Landfill Harmonic/Vimeo