TIL: Cairo’s “Garbage People” Farm Their City's Trash

For the Zabaleen, which literally translates to “garbage people,” trash is the foundation of life. Each day they travel throughout Cairo, Egypt, collecting the city’s waste and hauling it back to their neighborhoods to sort. Banana peels and half-eaten sandwiches are thrown to the animals while inorganic materials are cleaned, shredded, and shipped off to be reused. This all contributes to a recycling rate of 85 percent, making the Zabaleen one of the world’s most sustainable societies.

In this episode of Today I Learned, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Thomas Taha Rassam Culhane introduces this industrious community and explains how they’ve built a way of life around Cairo’s garbage.