Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cardboard Recycling with Pops & Mama

The first time I looked out our apartment window my heart sank.  This is what I saw…

PICT1899 A right proper MESS! 

With time I have come to realize that this mess is actually a very intentional line of work.  The owners of our apartment are an elderly Korean couple (whom we call, affectionately, ‘Pops’ and ‘Mama’– as we don’t know their names).  They own this lot next door and use it as a recycling station for cardboard.

Every day Pops and Mama go around our dong (our small section of the city), with a cart either pulled by hand or by a bike, and collect cardboard.  Everyone in Gwangju separates their cardboard from the rest of their garbage and puts it outside.  I see older people all over the city pulling around carts collecting this cardboard.

PICT1882   A classic style of cart

I think our landlords do it in part to supplement their income, but also I think it gives Pops something to do (I see him out there more than Mama).  I now see this lot as his workshop.  

  PICT1633 There he is in the upper left corner carefully inspecting one of the cardboard items. 

PICT1899 Now I look at this pile and see an organized heap of cardboard ready to be picked up by a recycling company.

PICT1900 Often there is a tarp placed over the cardboard to keep it dry.

PICT1635 It is amazing how much the pile can grow in a day … they work very hard!


  1. Your dad said we now can have an "older" age adventure!! That's really cool how 'their' system works. We all need purpose...

  2. Exciting to know that there is a new "business" available to us. Interesting how we would probably prohibit this in a residential area due to zoning regulations. From the ridiculous to the sublime. Keep those blogs and pictures coming!