Tiao Santos arrives in the US for the first time looking forward to the Oscars and to spreading his message around
Main character of Oscar nominated Documentary Feature, Waste Land, Sebastião dos Santos, a picker born in the biggest Waste Land in the world and who became one of Brazil’s social leader, heading a brutal change in the way the national society deals with trash, lands in the US for the first time in his life this Thursday, to attend the Oscar and make his message heard all over the world.
Born in Jardim Gramacho, where Waste Land is located, Tião, as he is known, started his relationship with the trash when he was only 11 years old and would go to Jardim Gramacho everyday to take lunch to his mother Jeruza who was a picker.
Some few years later he started picking recyclable material too and followed the steps of his mother, who had founded the Copergramacho, an association to sell the recyclable material.
He became vice-president of Copergramacho and in 2006 founded the ACAMJG (Association of Pickers of Jardim Gramacho) and is its President nowadays.
A natural leader, Tiaos life began to change when he found the book “Prince,” by Machiavel, in the trash and read it. The desire to become a leader aroused. “I learnt so much from that book,” he says.
Three years ago Tiao’s life would take another turn when he met Vik Muniz during the filming of Waste Land. He was one of the characters chosen by Vik to be portrayed and his art was the one picked to be auctioned, taking him to London, seeing art made with trash turn into money and taking the money back to ACAMJG.
From there on, Tiao had the chance to travel to Europe and Asia and visit the most modern and important recycling centers in the world.
Managed by the movie’s executive producer, Jackie de Botton and guided by consultant Gomes, xxx, Tiao is teaching all the pickers to become entrepreneurs and showing them how they will be able to make money out of the trash.
For many years Tiao had been fighting to get a law approved in the Congress, that would benefit the pickers and make separating the trash an obligation. The law got approved in December 2010 and now Tiao is working to see it implemented.
With Jardim Gramacho being in a count down to be closed, as it can’t hold trash anymore – 9T of trash are thrown there everyday – the lives of 5000 pickers might have no future. But not if Tiao is involved in this fight.
He is helping and is trying to get an action plan organized and has already managed to get, through private help the implementation of two Ecopolos in Rio that will accommodate the majority of the pickers and also give them better working conditions and more money.
“For me, the most important thing this movie has given me and to all of us pickers, is that we are now recognized as any other Brazilian citizen. People would make fun of us before and wouldn’t care about us. We pickers have every right of health, housing and education as all citizens in this country and what we will have in Rio wit this Ecopolos, is what I want to spread all over Brazil,” said Tiao.
At 32 years old, Tiao is married to Denise since he was 21 and has a 10 year old daughter called Clara.
He has been to the nation’s capital, Brasilia and met with former President Lula and current President Dilma Roussef.
Born in a very humble family and having lived, even today in a humble place, still at Jardim Gramacho, he is excited to go to Hollywood, but hasn’t changed his routine and isn’t living a celebrity life. “I am eager to be in Los Angeles, but I can’t be thinking about the Oscars all day long, otherwise I will lose the focus on what I have to do here. When I get there I will enjoy it. I want to hear what people thought about the movie and to send the message to everybody, that we can do more for a sustainable world. Over R$ 8 billion (U$ 5 billion) is wasted on trash in Brazil, only 1% of the trash of the country is recycled when we can have 40% of it recycled.”
One of the projects that Tiao aims to implement is using the organic trash to transform it into energy for cars and spaceships, with Metanol and Hydrogen. For this a pension funding has already been stated and work is in progress.
Tiao is to begin his MBA on applying the law of solid residuals in the upcoming months and with it be empowered to make the living out of trash economically viable, socially fair and environmentally safe.
Red Carpet at Jardim Gramacho – While Tiao will be at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday night, his fellow pickers will be partying at Jardim Gramacho. He himself helped get together a huge event to show all the pickers the movie and to broadcast live the Oscars. It will be a day of festivities at Jardim Gramacho. “Even if we don’t bring the Oscar back, it’s already a victory for us, because we became people with a value in the society, due to this movie. I will be forever grateful and honored to have been part of this project.”
Waste Land – Nominated for Documentary Feature
Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley
Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—
For further information on his agenda in Los Angeles and the festivities at Jardim Gramacho please contact Diana Gabanyi at +551181623818 and from the 24th on at +17862537604.