Recycle Life Puts the Issue of Poverty and Survival Under the Magnifying Glass


Modesta, CA – Crippling poverty may not be something the average American has experience with on a daily basis; however, people of all ages in other countries struggle daily to earn enough money to eat and have necessities to survive. In Guatemala, people living near Guatemala City are forced to dig through mounds of trash in a vast landfill located just outside the city to find items to recycle for meager pay, which was recorded by Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad for the documentary/short film “Recycle Life.”

Mike Glad Took the Hands-On Approach

Producer Mike Glad worked with a team of talented individuals, including Leslie Iwerks, to create a film that managed to grab people’s attention all over the world, including Hollywood. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. It was an unexpected yet compelling entry that managed to captivate audiences. The film’s buzz is helping people become more attuned with problems people are facing in countries across the world.

In the film, Mike Glad, along with Iwerks, dove into the garbage dump’s depths filled with poverty-stricken people, including young children. People of all ages sift through the refuse to find treasures that can fetch a small price to help them buy essentials. Entire families will descend into the garbage dump and spend the entire day and night looking for something worth recycling.

The garbage dump has been in that location for over 60 years now, and multiple generations of poor residents have used it to earn some type of living, regardless of how small. Food and work are scarce in this area of the world. Mike Glad says there are more people than jobs, and these people have nowhere else to turn to earn a living. In fact, the garbage dump conditions are very dangerous, and many people, especially children, have completely disappeared. The toxic gases from the dump can poison or overcome these people, which leads to their deaths.

A Difficult Undertaking

Mike Glad mentioned that it was an extremely difficult project to undertake and film because watching their suffering and perils affected their ability to film and make through to finish. However, he appreciates the experience because he and his team can shine a light on this issue and hopefully provide some motivation for others across the world to provide some assistance for these residents of Guatemala and other countries with similar conditions. People who have an interest in learning more about other cultures and their daily struggles to survive will appreciate this frank and compelling look at daily life for the impoverished people in Guatemala.

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