Will Brazilians ever adopt a sustainable lifestyle?
Published 30th September 2009 - 8 comments - 2206 views -
Brazil is a country of many inequalities. Although the government has many social programs to bridge the gap between the poorest and the wealthiest, it is safe to say that consumerism is still more and more prevalent in society. A sustainable lifestyle, which would include the adoption of recycling among the population, the saving of water in big cities, and the use of bicycles is far from being a reality to Brazilians. In addition, recent data regarding the same inequality is quite shocking.
This past week, the Brazilian institution IPEA (Institute of Applied Economic Research in Portuguese) [pt], has released sobering data regarding the social inequalities in Brazil. According to the institution, a poor family in Brazil spends in one year what 1% of the wealthy population spends in only three days. In other words, the wealthiest cannot possibly be considered defenders of the environment. If they took three days to spend what a family spends in a year, it is unfathomable to imagine how much they would spend and pollute in the whole year, considering their lifestyle that neglects common sense and the nation and world’s environmental issues.
On the other hand, poor people are often less educated and are neither taught to recycle nor to think of the environment and its issues, and climate change is definitely not their main topic of discussion. In my own neighborhood, people distance themselves from climate change discussions because they don’t care. They see on television that there are those who are going to meet in the European city of Copenhagen to “agree on solutions to the climate crisis”. “It might be something serious” one says. “We’ve got to fight for the environment,” another echoes the sentiment of the news reporter after sweeping the floor of his balcony with the garden hose water.
The people with whom I have had the opportunity to speak with are unsure of what the climate change discussions will be. The weather is crazy, the floods sweep away our cities, there have been tornadoes in Brazil, and yet the majority of the population still does not adopt a different lifestyle. Many say it is difficult, others don’t listen to you, and there are those who listen to you but quickly forget your words and grab dozens of plastic bags in the supermarket.
This reminded me of a situation where I went to the supermarket with a friend from Canada and another friend from Brazil. We purchased our food and packed the items in plastic bags. The Canadian friend, conversely, used her own fabric bag to store the goods she just had bought. People gawked and wondered aloud, “what the hell is she doing?!! We have plastic bags!!!”, “Hey, look at her! She is not using the plastic bags! That’s weird!” She was saving the environment by rejecting plastic bags, which are responsible for an unprecedented use of oil and are difficult to recycle. The Brazilians in line, well… they were just babbling nonsense.
In big cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, more significant issues such as the use of cars is at the centre of the climate change and environment discussion. Sao Paulo’s citizens cannot give up their cars and use public transportation, as it is neither safe nor healthy to use public transportation in Sao Paulo and Rio. The lack of quality and good conditions in this sector is shameful. People would rather spend three hours in a traffic jam and go by car than use the bus and the metro. Secondly, in a city with more than six million cars and 19 million people like Sao Paulo, it is quite difficult to fight for the planet when you use your car everyday and every night. Can we still find a solution for this? Can we encourage people to fight for their lives in the busy traffic and crowded buses for the sake of the environment?
This photo was taken by CBN Radio SP reporter Cátia Toffoletto in the “A Day without a Car” campaign in Sao Paulo. The photo is under a Creative Commons license. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cbnsp/3943717183/
Climate change has to be interpreted as a change in the way we live our lives effectively, in the way consumerism reaches every little bit of our social relations and exploits our natural resources and in what we can do to diminish our negative influence on the environment. Everything is connected. One must be blind not to see this. So what lacks in Brazilian society? Hope and inspiration? Not really. Brazilians are very optimistic, but right here, right now, the majority of the population does not see a reason to fight against climate change and that is quite tragic.
About the author
- A retour Amsterdam-India, why not… by train?
- Formula Green – how F1 can fight global warming
- Sustainability Neverland or Dyssekilde x Sao Paulo
- India plastic-free?
- Food and climate change - save or doom the world while eating
- Climate Change, Energy and Environment in the Lisbon Treaty
- A stitch in time, saves nine
- TCKTCK: Got only 10 years to save ourselves!
- Denmark cries in Sea of Blood, 950 Whales and Dolphins KILLED…
- Micro pigs - the ultimate sweetheart energy saver
- If you want to see nude people click here
- Do we really care about our planet? Think twice before answering.
- Evolutions in the history of Environment Part 2
- Bunnies for fuels: not a good story to share in a grade school classroom