Literally Down in the Dumps, Landfill Dwellers Sleep on Trash and Live to Just 35

by Vins
Published: Updated:

An estimated 15 million people worldwide live and work within landfills — combing through trash every day for items of the slightest value to sell. They make about $3.25 a day and live on average to 35 years old.

Landfill slums, where the local economy runs on trash, have been documented in India, Asia, Ethiopia and Brazil, among other countries, and the 50 biggest dumpsites in the world affect the daily lives of 64 million people, and contaminate the groundwater. Plastics in these dumps ends up in the oceans and threaten marine life.

In a dumpsite of 15,000 people, fewer than 100 people lived to the age of 60.


Rachel England, “Living in Landfill.” The Independent, March 22, 2019,

Jacopo Pasotti and Elisabetta Zavoli. “People Are Living Inside Landfills As The World Drowns In Its Own Trash,” Huffington Post,

Student Researcher: Rachel Henry and Amber Yang (San Francisco State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)