Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Waste Land: A Review

I recently watched the film Waste Land, about a Brazilian artist named Vik Muniz, and was deeply moved. Muniz is an artist who moved to Brooklyn, NY, and made a name for himself. Inspired to help others less fortunate than himself, he moved back to Brazil for 2 years, creating a series of works about "pickers". The "pickers" are the ones who work at the local landfill in Rio, pulling anything recyclable out of the landfill and selling it to the recycling companies to earn a living. It is hard, dirty, and dangerous work.
This movie was shocking to me in so many ways. First, that Rio, a huge metropolis, would have no recycling program. People just throw their recyclables into the trash, because there isn't anywhere else to put them, and then the entire recycling system relies on people who pick through the trash to reclaim those recyclables. We know there is a better way, because we have one here. It blows my mind that in the 21st century that is where the state of recycling is in Brazil.
The "pickers", whose lives were profiled throughout the film, were nothing short of amazing. These folks resorted to picking usually as a last resort, a way to salvage their lives and support their families. Some were embarrassed and ashamed of their jobs, others were proud to be saving the environment with their work.
Muniz spent time with these pickers, learning about their lives, and then he photographed several pickers in meaningful poses. Then, by enlisting the help of the pickers themselves in his artwork, he projected the photograph onto the floor of a warehouse, and used recyclables that the pickers collected from the landfill to "draw" the photograph. It is hard to explain, but the artwork turned out amazing. Each piece was auctioned off, and all of the proceeds went to the picker who was the subject of the piece.
So, this amazing artist was helping to lift these pickers out of poverty while creating art from trash and bringing awareness to the entire situation. What a fabulous story and an inspiring film. Please watch it! Pin It Now!


  1. Wow, sounds like a great one. So very interesting...I learned something just reading your post. You come across such interesting movies...where do you find them? I would like to see this one and will look for it. Thanks.

  2. What an amazing story. I had no idea about 'pickers'. It's quite confronting, isn't it? Thanks for sharing this.