Watch: Short Doc 'Styrofoam' About a Styrofoam Scavenger in China

January 7, 2019
Source: YouTube

Styrofoam Short Film

"I can only see forward when the cart is full." Think about all the random waste and leftover filler product drifting around out there. What happens to all of it? Styrofoam is a short film by a photographer named Noah Sheldon, based in Shanghai, who made this as part of a video series on work in modern China. The doc is about a woman named Wo Guo Jie, who is a styrofoam collector. She roams the streets scavenging and hunting for leftover styrofoam - boxes and other various shapes. She collects this and piles it very high on her motorcycle, reselling them to a seafood wholesale market. "Working under the cover of night to limit police attention, she's still a highly conspicuous sight on the city streets, biking with as many boxes stacked around her as possible so that she has to make only one trip a day." It's a beautifully-shot film, allowing us to follow her daily routine closely as she travels around the city hoping to stock up. Definitely worth a watch.

Thanks to Kottke for the tip on this. Description on YouTube: "As China shifted from a small-farm economy to an industrial powerhouse over the past generation, there’s been an enormous demographic shift, with some 282 million migrant labourers splitting their time between cities and their rural homes. For Wo Guo Jie, who makes her living in Shanghai collecting styrofoam boxes from markets and reselling them to a seafood wholesale market, this transformation has meant spending as many as three years at a time away from her family farm, where her children sometimes barely recognise her when she returns." Styrofoam is directed by Shanghai-based filmmaker / photographer Noah Sheldon (visit his website), as part of a video series on work in modern China. Produced by Jean Liu, with music composed by Nick Zinner. Originally released by Aeon Video online. For info, visit YouTube or Noah's site. For more shorts, click here. Thoughts?

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Reader Feedback - 3 Comments


Great! Need about 100,000 more of these guys in China though.

DAVIDPD on Jan 8, 2019


Unfair life.

Quast on Jan 8, 2019


So much emotion and storytelling packed into 4 minutes. Thought it was interesting that no one wants to farm in China anymore, they all work in the city in factories... Really provides perspective...

THE_RAW_ on Jan 14, 2019

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