Pimp My Carroça launched a crowdfunding campaign last week to help “pimp” (improve) the carts of three independent waste collectors – Ze, Bahia and Zoinho. The special edition of Pimpex (the name of the campaign) will be held during the II BrazilFoundation Gala São Paulo on May 25th.

BrazilFoundation partner since 2014, Pimp My Carroça is a socio-environmental project that offers safety kits to individual waste collectors and improvements in their main working tool: the wagon. The project was created by graffiti artist and activist Mundano, and today has more than 3,500 collaborators.

While making art in the streets of São Paulo, Mundano began to see what many Paulistas do not, “Being in the streets around graffiti, which is a marginalized art, I discovered another kind of work that is marginalized– that of the waste collector,” says the artist. “So in 2007 I started giving them a voice, asking what they wanted me to paint on their carts” he says. While transforming carts into street art, Mundano began to research the lives of these collectors. “Then I saw that much more was needed to give them dignity,” he recalls.

Invisible to urbanites, independent waste collectors are environmental agents responsible for recycling 10% to 20% of solid waste in Brazil, ultimately helping to reduce public spending. And this job involves a lot of work! Just to give you an idea, every American produces over 400 kilos of waste per year, which is 77 million tons of waste, according to the Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

A recent study by Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada revealed that there are more than 380,000 independent waste collectors throughout Brazil, while it is estimated that the number could reach 800,000. Despite the importance of their work, collectors like Zé, Bahia and Zezinho often live on the margins of society and in extreme poverty.

The Pimp My Carroça movement offers health care to waste collectors and structural reform to their carts by decorating them with paintings and adding safety features. The goal of the movement is to make collectors less invisible to society and promote their self-esteem. The “pimpadas” (cart reforms) are made possible through fundraising campaigns and art auctions. Mundano will auction one of his paintings at the II BrazilFoundation Gala São Paulo on May 25th to raise more funds for these collectors.

To participate in the campaign, click here.

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