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Monday, April 9, 2012

Recycling in Brazil: A Tourist Perspective

I just came back from a trip to Brazil and, without any research or looking into it, my impression as a visitor is that there is a lot to be done there in regards to recycling.

I visited a few cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

In Rio, small towns and the capital city alike, there were practically no indication that they recycle at all or that the local residents and government are making an effort for that to happen. There were no visible recycle bins on the streets, no sign at restaurants, no messages being conveyed on TV or street signs or billboards. There was basically nothing.

The only thing I saw, but am not sure how well it is used, was a specific bin to throw away coconuts -- a very popular fruit for its delicious water and found when walking around the lagoon and the beaches.

I was really surprised that there is no more being done. Rio de Janeiro is the capital all tourists want to visit, the one deeply connected with nature and natural resources. It is amazing how little it seems it is being done there.

Next, I went to Sao Paulo. At least there I could feel and see an effort being made toward recycling. I saw a few places with recycle bins on the streets, the hotel had recycle bins in the kitchen and used recycled paper in the toiletries available for guests, and plastic bags were banned from supermarkets just last Wednesday, April 4 (I saw on the local news).

This is a huge step forward. I just have an issue with charging for the biodegradable bags. Those bags should be the ones offered to consumers to begin with, and since supermarkets will save tons by not providing regular plastic bags and will be selling reusable bags, they should simply replace plastic bags with biodegradable bags and offer them at no cost to their customers. But, still, replacing the bags is a step forward and maybe charging for the bags will push more customers to bring their own reusable ones, and that is also positive.

So, when comparing the two states looking at them through a tourist's eye, Sao Paulo seems to be way ahead of Rio from a recycling perspective. I hope that that is just the beginning of a new trend and Rio will try to catch up with that soon. Good reasons exist and if being the right thing to do for all is not enough of a reason, maybe the survival of the natural beauty Rio is famous for could be.

Recycle Brevard!

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