At the core of my being I have advocated for dignified and diverse access to hygiene which includes sustainable trash services for those suffering in poverty. In 2010 I suffered a disabling brain injury which landed me homeless in the city of Portland Oregon by January of 2015. I started collecting cans and bottles to survive with my friends that lived nearby. We took pride in recycling and helping the environment, even though society didn’t.
My biggest dream as a waste picker is for our work to be recognized as vital to the overall health of the global environment, and for our knowledge and skills to be recognized. Policies like Extended Producer Responsibility and the plastics treaty must highlight that true living wages and a focus on inclusion can help create pathways out of poverty.
I’m humbled and honored to be representing my community in such a valuable way, using my skills of public speaking to lift the voices of those rarely heard or invited to these types of prestigious negotiations.
If all people could hear me I would sing them a song about equity, dignity, peace, and healing of the earth. The words would be a promise of joy and fulfillment, tearing down the walls of classism. Everyone not only has a right to live, they have a right to flourish.
Barbra Weber is part of Ground Score, Portland, Oregon (USA).