The Cardboard Boys: South Africa

In South Africa, cardboard is currency…or at least one of the few ways to obtain money for people who cannot find jobs. For many young men, this is often the ONLY way to make money in the city without resorting to crime or illegal activity. The industrious ones will often take their cardboard pickups to the waterfront to soak and make heavier for a higher payout, though now many recyclers and buyers are adjusting their prices to accommodate for the added water-weight. Still, this is the reality for men and women throughout the city who have no options to succeeded and limited options to survive…yet still choose to retain their dignity above all other alternatives. 

 Sakhile soaking cardboard to make it heavier for selling Loading garbage bins full of soaked cardboard Pressing down his cardboard pile to drain the water and make more room "I never had a chance to feel a mother's embrace" Long journey ahead Smoke break Streets of Durban Paper recyclers watch as the boys prepare their cardboard to be weighed Zain purchases cardboard from street children at a rate of 70 cents per kilo Recycling cardboard and other paper products is a major industry in South Africa Unloading cardboard to be weighed Haggling over price   PayoutPayout  Sakhile makes 78 rand from his day's work. The equivalent of approximately $5 USD   Celebratory cigarette after a hard day's workThe cardboard boys live in a world that is apart from everyone, even though they walk the same streets " We are not used to smiling this much. It's a good feeling""All we have is each other. We help each other so we don't have to steal"