Trash converters



July 28, 2016
Trash converters

DAYS WORK: Alice Christians and her son Dorian with their dumpsite takings. CREDIT: Patrick Louw

Capricorn family make a living by collecting and selling others’ vullis.

That old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” literally applies to this Cape Flats family.

Alice Christians, 55, makes a living from collecting vullis and exchanging it for money.

After her husband’s death in 2006, her sister Lorraine Daniels, 60, and the couple’s two sons continued to help Alice.

And the family is also not afraid to bring their work home  –  their Capricorn house is filled with things they have found on the Muizenberg dumpsite over the decades.

These include garden statues, copper and brass vases, paintings, antique furniture, toys, plants, doors and even jewellery.

“You see these antique chairs? I just made pillows and repainted them, even those Venetian style doors, I got that at the site,” a proud Alice says.

The mom adds: “I grew up on a farm in Philippi and my mother was a flower seller and this was the life we knew, collecting scrap from a young age.

“Even when I met my husband Abraham, he followed me into the scrap industry.”

Alice says scrap is their bread and butter, and it has sustained them well over the years.

“We go to the dump site daily at 4pm, when you are allowed to enter for free, “she says.

“You have to be focused on what you are looking for, like the metals (which fetch a lot of money).

“We will store what we find for two weeks and then sell it (to recycling plants and scrap yards) for money.

“Then we will shop at Pick n Pay and eat chicken and good food,” she jokes.

“So people must not say they are living in poverty, do something about it like we are. You don’t need to go hungry.”

BLOOM: Alice put her plants in garden after gathering them from site. CREDIT: Patrick Louw

Dorian started collecting scrap about 10 years ago, and says he won’t change his job for anything.

“I don’t go and cash in what I find on a daily basis,” he explains.

“I accumulate what I have then I make a nice profit. You get to see a lot at the dump, sometimes dead animals, like dogs.”

The family protect themselves by wearing gloves, but not surgical masks.

Alice says: “We have to wear the gloves because we are in contact with germs daily.”

Deon, 39, arrives carrying a huge bag on his back, which he says weighs over 30kg.

“I can carry a bag that’s close to 100 kilograms,” he says proudly.

His day’s findings will be handed over to his mom, who will exchange it and use the money to buy food.

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