Dogtown Redemption is the story of America’s Untouchables: shopping cart recyclers in West Oakland. See the trailer at: http://dogtownredemption.com/index
Every year, Californians buy about 22 billion drinks in aluminum, glass, and plastic containers. Under California’s Beverage Container Recycler and Litter Reduction Act, beverage containers covered under the act are subject to California Redemption Value: 5 cents for containers less than 24 ounces and 10 cents for containers 24 ounces or larger.
As a result of this legal innovation, trash can turn into cash thanks to a recycling industry that has converted environmentalism into an economic life-line, not only for cities and corporations across California, but for thousands of poor Californians: the unemployed and underemployed, the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled, former criminals, drug addicts and prostitutes have turned into entrepreneurs. They literally live off a vast river of trash, a swamp of muck that can turn into a source of sustenance and hope.
Our documentary, Dogtown Redemption, tells the story of this river, and its inhabitants. We look at this lively, bustling yet invisible and most odiferous corner of California. We follow the lives of four recyclers: Jason, the Olympic titan of recycling; Roslin, a widow whose husband, Willie taught her how to survive by recycling; Landon, a former priest, who ministers to the recyclers while struggling with his own fall from grace; and Hayok, a former punk-drummer from a prominent Korean family. Through them, we are introduced to the art, science, economics and politics of recycling–what it offers, how it touches and why it matters to the poor.