Posts Tagged ‘Brazilians’

Change the World Wednesday – 26th Sep

Yes, I know it’s Thursday, I’m a day late; and that doesn’t worry me one bit. I took the day off yesterday as a recovery measure; a combination of exhaustion and a very cold day. I didn’t even go to work.

The south of Brazil has been hit with snow and many have had the house roofs destroyed by wind and hail; they showed hailstones the size of golf balls on TV last night, house roofs looked as though they had been peppered by a huge shotgun. Many crops were decimated as well, as this is the primary zone for cool-temperate farming, so we can expect higher prices.

Tuesday night we were hit by a cold front. After an extremely mild – hot winter (hottest and driest in 40 years) here in Rio de Janeiro, in fact most of Brazil has suffered with very low humidity extremes. Last week/weekend (I’m not sure of the day now) in my part of the city we had 14% humidity, some of the world’s deserts are more humid. Officially now we are in Spring, and the weather has decided to be winter. We went from a hot summer’s weekend (39/40°C) to winter temperatures (15/19°C) in the space of  24 hours.

Weird weather, unseasonable changes, extremes… Now tell me there is no such thing as global warming. I’m not apportioning the blame here, just saying it’s here.

Botijão de gás

My kitchen gas just ran out. Luckily, the water had boiled to make coffee, so it wasn’t quite the disaster it could have been. I was rather pleased, I had anticipated the gas would quit sometime in August, and here we are at the end of September; that’s five months from one gas bottle for all my oven heat. A bottle of gas costs about R$39 (currently that’s about USD2o).

I always buy a spare the month after I change the botijão. Most Brazilians don’t do that. Their gas runs out and they have to ring and wait for a delivery, usually about a half hour. Then there is the problem that most Brazilians don’t have money for that eventuality and have to wait for the next pay day.

On with the challenge. Actually this isn’t much of a challenge for me, because most things I don’t even have.

Life is so much less complicated here in Brazil, which is one of the reasons I love it here.

This week, if you are moving into Autumn, choose one task from this LIST and accomplish it. Of course, we’d like to hear all about it.


Or …

If you are moving into Spring, choose a task from this POST. Again, we’d like to know what you chose to do and how you did it.


Or …

If none of those activities appeal to you, choose a previous challenge from the list HERE. And yep … tell us about it!

Well, I have to look at the second option, because we’re heading into spring.

  • I don’t spring clean – check
  • I don’t even have a closet to clean out, and I don’t have things to throw out – check
  • No smoke detectors, so no batteries – check
  • No air filters – check
  • Spring garden and compost – check
  • No landscaping – check
  • Walk, I don’t walk, I hobble where possible – check
  • No drier, so clothes are always dried outside – check
  • No air blower, Brazilians use water, I use a yard broom – check
  • No grass, no mower – check
  • No ceiling fan, I use two portable ones, need cleaning – check
  • No fireplace, no damper to close – check

So after all that, my total contribution will be to clean both fans. Like I said, life is so much simpler here.

Have a great week everyone.


Make you Fink on Friday

It appears as though we are just not getting the message.

Plastic bag use ‘up for second year running’

Waste plastic bags at a recycling plant in South Glamorgan, Wales. Photograph: The Photolibrary Wales/Alamy

UK supermarkets handed out 8bn single-use plastic bags last year, up 5.4% on 2010, say government figures

The number of single-use plastic bags handed out to shoppers by UK supermarkets has risen for the second year running, new figures from the government’s waste reduction body Wrap have revealed. The figures will be a huge disappointment to the government, which backed a voluntary scheme to cut the use if throwaway bags.

A total of 8bn “thin-gauge” bags were issued in the UK in 2011 – a 5.4% rise on the 7.6bn in 2010 – and with every shopper now using an average of almost 11 a month.

It is the second year in a row the number of throwaway plastic bags has risen, although their use has fallen by more than a third (35%) since 2006, when 12.2bn bags were handed out. Retailers have blamed the recession, saying families have changed their shopping habits and are doing more smaller shops every week – often using public transport.

Source: The Guardian Read more


The figures quoted are for the United Kingdom, but I have no doubts that the trend worldwide would be rather similar.

We just don’t appear to be getting the message.

Figures fell initially, but complacency has obviously raised it’s ugly head and the last two years both show an increase, and not small increases, 5.4% must be considered major.

“Your Dad is training to be Carmen Miranda?” – “No, he’s come from the supermarket without bags!”

São Paulo here in Brazil recently brought in measures to ban them from all retail outlets, but within two weeks supermarkets brought them back citing a dramatic fall off in business; customers were saying simply, “No bags, put the stuff back on the shelves!” and walking out leaving their purchases on the checkout and in trolleys (shopping carts, for our American cousins).

Rio de Janeiro has similar plans afoot.At the moment it is not law here in Rio.

Preparing for the event, my own supermarket (not mine, but where I shop) has begun to offer reusable bags. Last night as I was doing my monthly stock up, I noticed them. not because they were just hanging there at the checkout, but because one of the checkout girls was explaining them to a customer as an alternative; he brought and used one saving about ten plastic bags going by the number of purchases he had.

Brazilians buy up big at the beginning of the month

I asked for and got boxes. I can because I use a frete (delivery), but many people can’t because they walk distances or use buses and a bag is essential. Also, here in Brazil we are hampered by the monthly salary, not that it’s much (this month my pay slip was papel de cebola – onion paper, enough to make you cry). Because people are paid monthly, they shop at the beginning of the month; and it’s a big shop, because at the end of the month, they are broke with no money to buy more. So they have to buy big when they can, and they bring more than one person so they can carry their produce home, maybe a kilometer, or two (mile+). For them bags are essential, and the reusable bag becomes more attractive as they are easier to carry than hands clutching up to ten bags (I know, I have done this, it’s murder on the fingers).

It’s easier to do this….

…than this!

Brazilians are also big fans of the trundler, which makes the option less attractive…

It’s harder to fit reusable bags in trundlers

Just some thoughts here about the situation in Brazil. Does your location present similar or particular problems?

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?


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.


Change the World Wednesday – 15th Feb

Champing at the bit

Normally I wake up on Wednesdays ready and raring to go; champing at the bit as it were. But this morning there were some issues in the news that took precedence. Having dealt with those and some other incidentals, I am running later than normal for CTWW.

My last week’s effort, I managed to put on the thinking cap and became creative.

My extra time at the botequim went well and I saved a whole week of two hours of TV and lights per day.

This week is similar.

The challenge is excellent, as usual, but the respect is just not here. Brazilians are not geared for this type of idea.

So here it is entirely impractical.

This week’s Change the World Wednesday Challenge:

This week create a recycle bin for all the non-curbside recyclables – batteries, CFL bulbs, misc. plastics, etc. – and then find out where to recycle them.

Or …

If you’re already a recycling “guru”, please tell us about your toughest items to recycle and how you’ve managed it. And, of course, any tips and ideas you have for recycling would be wonderful!

Catadores take anything that is not nailed down if they think they can sell it

If I was to put a special recycling/disposal box out several things could happen. Firstly the local kids would take it, use it, abuse it. Then there is the rubbish truck itself, they would just dump it in with all the other rubbish. Then the locals would just use it for any rubbish, they have no idea, even if it were to be printed on the bin. Lastly, the catadores (street scavengers) would take it for its recycling value and dump any possible contents in with normal rubbish.

So I am looking at the second part of the challenge. I’m so glad Small Footprints always provides an alternative to the main challenge.

As with last week it involves the botequim (neighbourhood bar). You can see the botequim in the photo and the proximity to my light green wall and white gate to the right.

Now botequins are normally a type of pé sujo affair, which means ‘rough and ready’ although literally ‘dirty foot.’

More often than not, they are simply a ‘hole-in-the-wall’ affair, with or without tables on the footpath (sidewalk for our American cousins). Raimundo’s is not. Tiles on the floor and walls, clean toilets, etc.

Now he has two of these

It has taken me more than two years to convince him to put a container on the public side of the bar for general rubbish. In the past rubbish ended up on the floor or in the street which had to be swept up several times a day so as not to look unsightly.

Recently he installed a huge display fridge near the front of the bar for freguês (regulars) to serve themselves, with a bottle opener hung from the wall. He finally put a box under the bottle opener and it has become a rubbish container and most people use it. There are still some die-hards and kids, that insist on throwing stuff into the street; and I have shamed more that a few of them.

So a small difference has been made.

Change the World Wednesday – 25th Jan

Last week saw the first CTWW for 2012 and some of the posts on what we perceive as roadblocks to being green and comments were eye-openers. One I particularly enjoyed was about an aspect that I had not considered in my post; peer pressure and kids; Struggles with Going Green worth a read.

Small Footprints also has a new scheme, Meet and Greet Monday. Each Monday she plans, starting last Monday, to put up a Linky for us to take advantage of. I did and within hours, I got two visits, one of them was new. Great idea to get to know new blogs. Join in on Mondays on Reduce Footprints.

This weeks challenge is one that I have been on the receiving end of recently.

This week, begin creating a list of unneeded household items to donate to nonprofits. Perhaps you have clothing, pillows, books or sports equipment which could be given to men’s and women’s shelters. Animal shelters are always in need of towels and food containers. So look around your home and see what could be offered. Donating keeps stuff out of landfills & supports local nonprofits that need all the help they can get.

Or …

If you’ve already cleaned out your closets, please share other ideas on how we can keep “stuff” out of landfills.

A little more than three years ago I found myself with the clothes in which I stood. The reasons are another story, and a long one. But it did leave me in quite a predicament and without asking, I had secondhand clothing donated, some usable, some not because of my considerable girth. The stuff I could use, I did and am still doing, the stuff I couldn’t I passed on to my kids who are teenagers now. So all was well used.

Flooding wipes out whole towns

Generally though, this is a point where Brazilians excel. God knows they fail in so many areas; but this one not.

Brazil is inundated with annual flooding in areas throughout the country during the summer rains. The fault of the flooding is the councils and government not preparing and/or corruption in both.

Not even humble dwellings are spared

Many people are left without homes, clothing, furniture nor food. Some end up in shelters for months, even a year or more waiting for emergency housing. It is only the generosity of Brazilians not afflicted who donate anything they don’t need and campaigns for dry foodstuff to be donated that saves the day.

This is not just a ‘once off’, it happens annually, literally truck loads of clothing, food, appliances and furniture are donated.

So while Brazilians fail sadly in many CTWW challenges, this is one challenge where I can say that Brazilians surpass themselves.

Brazilians are generous to a fault. That’s one of the reasons I love Brazil regardless of its failings. Brazilians think with the heart (not only Brazilians, Latin Americans generally, because it is true of Bolivians and Peruvians as well). In the west, we think with the head, often forgetting where the heart is; Latin Americans are the opposite, they think with the heart and not the head; which is often their downfall as well.


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