At the beginning of Pollution Prevention Week back in September, I wrote about Agbogbloshie, in Accra, Ghana, and how it has been included on a list of the ten most polluted places in the world. In that previous post, I referred to Terra Blight, a documentary contrasting the use and perceived disposability of electronics in our Western culture versus the lives of those in Agbogbloshie, particularly a 13-year-old boy, who make a living gleaning precious materials from cast off electronics. I will continue to highly recommend that film (if you’re at the University of Illinois you can check the DVD out from the library).
For an immediate glimpse into life in Agbogbloshie, check out a short documentary film (around 9 minutes) on this region, directed by Sam Goldwater, called Regolith. This video was recently made a “staff pick” on Vimeo.
In case you’re wondering, “regolith” is “a layer of loose, heterogeneous material covering solid rock. It includes dust, soil, broken rock, and other related materials and is present on Earth, the Moon, Mars, some asteroids, and other terrestrial planets and moons.” (Wikipedia) The use of the term, which is so often applied to the surface of the Moon or other planets, seems appropriate. Earth’s surface in Agbogbloshie has been transformed by humanity’s short-sighted, wasteful tendency to design and deploy products without whole life cycle considerations, into a nightmarish landscape, simultaneously alien and uncomfortably familiar.