Archive for March 28th, 2012

Change the World Wednesday – Special VI

A treeful of beautiful flowers

Yes, here we are, it’s Wednesday again. For me this week, today is wonderful. I have been to work and finished. My weekend has started, next lesson, Monday.

Also today is great because I saw a new flower; one that I have never seen before.

Walking up the drive to where I work, I spied a splash of colour where I have never seen a splash of colour before. I resolved to investigate.

At coffee break, I explored the phenomenon. My student tagged along.

There by the boundary fence we found them, the lower half of  a 5 metre (15ft) tree covered in these spectacular blooms.

Marcos offered his camera and I snapped a photo. Aren’t they beautiful?

Now comes the tricky bit. Nobody knows what the tree is. I still have some avenues to explore, but if anybody has an idea, please leave a comment. No prizes for the correct answer apart from the satisfaction that you’ve made an old man happy.

On with CTWW Daily…

Small Footprints Lenten Daily CTWW challenges on Reduce Footprints.


CTWW Daily Challenge – 22nd March

World Water Day is observed today. Learn about the global scarcity of safe water and sanitation and the effects of climate change on water at

Farmland in northeast Brazil, where families have to tramp miles just to get a bucket of muddy water from one of the few water traps around. To get water trucked in is just too expensive for some

Water is becoming more and more scarce throughout the world, in parts where it hasn’t been a problem before. For example, parts of England are having drought conditions; England, traditionally known for its wet weather. Now if England can have problems it’s a sure indicator that nowhere is immune. Parts of Brazil are having problems too, but they’ve had problems for years.


Trucked water, too expensive

They can get water trucked in by carros pipa (water tankers), but most families can’t afford R$5 for 18 gallons, not when you are earning below the minimum wage. Some of these families survive on less than R$500 per month (USD300), having been reduced to that by the drought conditions.

We in the west have always taken water for granted, we turn on the tap and water has always been there. We water our gardens, wash our cars, bathe and shower, then there’s the swimming pool. Water has never been a problem.

Can you imagine having dry taps in your house?

Current climate changes are making this a very real possibility for some people who have traditionally always had water.

Photo credit: Royal Horticultural Society, Green Vision Corp

CTWW Daily Challenge – 23rd March

Be conscious about water and energy use when washing dishes. There has been considerable debate on whether washing by hand or powered, automatic dishwasher is more environmentally friendly.

For me there isn’t a choice. Dishes and washing are done by hand. I try to economise, I save my grey-water for the garden and to flush the toilet. My system is nothing elaborate, just a bucket under the sink, but it does the trick.

I have just used the hot water from my boiled potatoes to wash the grease off last night’s plates; that saves washing time and detergent.

CTWW Daily Challenge –  24th March

Take a shower instead of a bath, and try to limit your shower to less than 5 minutes. If you already shower, consider taking ashipboard shower– turn the water on only to rinse.

I reckon I’ve got you all beat on this one. No bath, only three-minute showers. But then, I’ve got no hair to wash either…

CTWW Daily Challenge – 25th March

Save paper today. Don’t print unless you need to and when you do, print double-sided onto recycled paper. Use paper, tissue, toilet paper and wood that is recycled…

No printer, so no paper worries, although I do have a ream of recycled paper on hand for when I do need paper. I have looked into recycled tissue and toilet paper, but in my part of the city, not one of the supermarkets or stores carry any. The nearest place I can get it is in Barra da Tijuca, which is 50kms (30 miles+/-) away and that doubles my transport costs besides taking the best part of a day to get there and back.

I have spoken to the supermarket manager about it, and while he thinks the idea is laudable, he doesn’t think the Brazilians would buy it. So for him it is a waste of shelf space. He is not Brazilian, btw, he’s Portuguese. I have suggested to him that he could use the opportunity to promote specials, etc; which gave him something to think about.

CTWW Daily Challenge – 26th March

This is a hard one: Keep your highway driving speed between 55 and 60 mph today. For most vehicles, 55 mph is the most fuel efficient highway speed and will save you up to 20-30% in fuel costs compared to driving at 75 mph.

My main means of transport is my walkingstick, as green as you can get. But then I have to use a bus to get to work. The highway to work doesn’t allow them to exceed 60km/h (35mph).

CTWW Daily Challenge – 27th March

If you own or work for a company which engages in travel, learn how MasterCard’s program to report on the carbon footprint of your transactions can help your company manage its environmental footprint.

This one had me scratching my head. I work for a French multi-national company (well, I am contracted to teach there) and I am pleased to say that environmental concerns are very much a priority, so I am sure they have this pretty much under control.

They are very strict about the environment and the factory area has trees and green areas all over. They have a special sector that propagates native trees, shrubs and plants for replanting.

Mico leão

They are also very strict about the wildlife that inhabits those areas. We have many species of birds and animals that roam freely around the factory grounds and personal are prohibited from disturbing them. Just today, after seeing my treeful of flowers, we watched a family of six mico-leões racing through the trees near my classroom.

So while I am not aware of the companies travel policies, I am certain that the environmental concerns related would not have been overlooked.

CTWW Daily Challenge – 28th March

Learn about, use or start a local bicycle sharing program as has been done in Tulsa, Miami, Boston, Vancouver and other communities around the world.

Surprise, surprise, Rio de Janeiro does have a programme like this, but more towards the centre of the city and in Copacabana. You can hire bicycles and use them from one station and leave them in another.

Bike Rio Station in Copacabana

Used by tourists and commuters alike. While the programme is not on a grand scale, it runs about 600 bicycles. São Paulo also has a similar programme.

So there are some green things the Brazilians do.

Well, there you have it. My weekly round up. While I am not able to participate in all the challenges, and get a bit of the track with others, it has all been a lot of fun.

Let’s see what the coming week brings us as the final week in this Daily challenge.

I’m also wondering what Small Footprints has in store for us the following week… big mystery…

NEWS FLASH: Mark your calendars for the week of April 9th. Reduce Footprints will be hosting a HUGE week-long event. It’ll be a little different from our “norm” and I think you’re going to like it!! Want a little hint? Okay … How does Born of Blood save the environment? Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?


I have just watched the clip Born of Blood, WOW! Right up my alley.

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