Change the World Wednesday – 29th Feb

The old boot has absolutely nothing to do with the story, but it's still a good idea for a planter

I’m going to leap right into the fray. (It’s a pun, get it, get it?….. oh, never mind)

I only get to do that joke once every four years and you lot (both of you) didn’t even raise an eyebrow.

This is a real Change the World Wednesday, Reduced Footprints fooled me. I didn’t realise that the real McCoy would be integrated with the Dailies.

As a result of my charm and wit, you’ll get two posts today, which I hope you’ll appreciate.

Now, where was I before I started waffling?

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Oh, yes, Change the World Wednesday….

Lastweek’s challenge to calculate your carbon footprint was an interesting exercise. I wasn’t enthused about my result, because I am more conscious of almost everything in this are than are 95% of Brazilians, and yet the result showed that I was waaaaay above the country average and the world target. Quite frankly, I don’t believe it. For example, there are many homes in Brazil that do not use electricity because they don’t have it, but was their candle burning, wood burning cooking and fossil fuel lighting taken into account in the initial calculations?

The challenge this week:

Reduce the number of plastic bags you use by getting a fabric or reusable bag for shopping. Although plastic bags use 70% less plastic than they did 20 years ago, most are still made from polyethylene, a non-degradable plastic. If you live near a brewery, you can obtain 15-20 gallon durable, synthetic grain bags which breweries usually throw away. These can either be used as garbage bags or rinsed out and re-used to take trash to the dump.

I usually do, but sometimes an impromptu therapy session supermarket visit can catch me without my bags, so I have to accept their plastic ones.

I can’t remember if I mentioned that São Paulo state has just banned plastic bags in all retail outlets. Will this come to Rio de Janeiro? I hope so.

Big durable bags

The second part of the challenge, If you live near a brewery… . Oh one can dream. I live a whole 11 metres (about 12 yards) from my botequim (a local neighbourhood  bar), but they don’t have big durable bags; unless you count some of the customers, then we have two. But they don’t drink martinis, mainly because if you asked Raimundo for a martini, he’d just blink at you because he has no idea how to make them.

The chances of getting the bags as suggested in the challenge is remote, because here they are already spoken for by somebody who makes them into carry bags for the street markets and sells them.

They used to cost 50 centavos, but I have seen the price rise to R$1 and now they are R$2. That’s inflation for you.

90% of the people use the supermarket bags for rubbish day. Even the kitchen and bathroom rubbish bins are made to fit the plastic bags.

That is something I must explain. Here in Brazil we do not put used toilet paper in the toilet to flush. There is a rubbish bin next to the toilet for that. You see most of the sewerage systems can’t take the paper. Many of the systems here don’t have sewerage treatment and the effluent often finishes up in rivers; paper would just be an added problem. So the toilet paper goes in the bin and out with the rubbish to the street rubbish collection three times a week.

So, in answer to the challenge, yes, I do, in as much as possible try to reduce the amount of plastic bagging that passes through my house.

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