People committed to recycling recognize beauty and worth in what others discard. Some also recognize a way to generate income. Eustaquia is an elder who recycles to earn a living. Now 76, she lives in Mexico with her husband, Felipe, whom she describes as her “wonderful companion.” Together, they raised seven children, now all grown and married.
Felipe was seriously injured in an accidental shooting 14 years ago, after which he suffered debilitating memory loss and was unable to work. As a result, Eustaquia needed to find a way to earn an income and began recycling.
“It was the only thing that I could think of doing, because I can´t find a job if I can’t read or write,” she said. “Very few people recycled for a job. There was a lot of stuff out in the street that I could pick up and sell. My work has brought food to our table for 14 years. I am grateful that I can do it.”
By now Eustaquia has a routine. She knows where to go and she has developed a keen eye for what “trash” to look for.
“I ride my tricycle every day and I pick up plastic bottles,” she said. “I also knock on doors asking for stuff that can be recycled like iron, glass and cardboard. A kilo of plastic is worth 15 cents, iron 20 cents and cardboard 25 cents. I collect between $2.50 and $3.50 a day. With that money I am able to buy corn, beans and tortillas for both of us. This is our livelihood.”
The income Eustaquia earns from recycling is modest, but it’s supplemented by the support she receives as an Unbound sponsored elder. Her sponsors are Jonas and Kathy from Illinois.
“I’ve been sponsored for about eight years,” she said. “Unbound has helped us so much, especially with food supplies. I get nice, delicious food from Unbound. It makes our life a lot better.
“Having a sponsor is the best gift of my life. They are part of my family. I am thankful for having someone from a different country care about me.”