Fun with Waste: Salvaging at the Dump Movie

A feature-length film on the landfill scavenging practices of Yellowknife, Northwest Territory residents was recently released. The documentary, called Salvage, profiles the residents picking through the trash at the landfill over a six-year period.

The film maker, Amy Elliott chose Yellowknife for her documentary because it was too difficult to find a landfill that allowed public scavenging in the United States.

“Everything’s closed because of liability,” Elliott told the CBC in an interview. “This was by far and away the largest dump that was open to the public for salvaging, so it was my only option.”

Salvage, her feature-length documentary, premiered last March at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music and film festival in Austin, Texas. It is also slated for about 10 more film festivals in the next several months.

The documentary celebrates scavenging and the people who do it, painting them as individuals that see the value in goods that others had no use for.

The City of Yellowknife, those starring in the documentary, and many residents are happy with the film. “Salvage brings to light the complexities and relevance of waste management in a fun, intimate and honest way,” said Chris Vaughn, who manages the solid waste facility, in an email to the CBC. “It showcases what the city has always known about its residents; that we are a group of resourceful and eclectic northerners that believe in the golden rule of making the best, and the most, of what we have.”

The documentary is not yet available to stream online, though it should be by spring.