Green Vientiane’s project, Recycle Khoi, brings into view the seemingly invisible work of the city’s trash collectors. Community artists are paired with cart pushers to design and paint each cart in a way that is meaningful to the collector. Locals say these trash collectors are ignored because people do not want to face the realities of the quickly increasing amounts of waste in Laos. Amplifying the work of the collectors as they clean up the trash and carry plastic and other materials to the recycling center serves a double purpose: Recycle Khoi opens dialogue about the environmental health and waste disposal challenges in a non-threatening way, and also pays respect to and provides a joyful experience for the collectors themselves.
Green Vientiane is a local organization that works to keep the city of Vientiane beautiful by promoting healthy recycling habits and encouraging local communities to reduce waste. According to Green Vientiane, only about 40% of waste in Laos ends up in landfills or gets recycled; the remaining garbage gets burned, thrown on the ground, or dumped into the Mekong River.
Paul Siriphongsavath, Melia Ungson, Nao Habe, Lizz Greeting, Aluna Thavonsouk
Green Vientiane’s long-term vision for Recycle Khoi is to start an “adopt-a-cart” program where local businesses, schools, and organizations can sponsor the beautification of a cart.