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Environmental Educator Reports from Brazil

Environmental Educator, Larissa Amaral is a certified Master Composter and is currently getting her BA in Sustainability and minoring in Management at San Diego State University. She is currently studying abroad on the island of Florianopolis, Brazil.

I’m living and studying on a little island off the south-east coast of Brazil called Florianopolis (for short—Floripa). It is known to be one of the wealthiest, safest, and nicest places to live in all of Brazil. I’ve not only noticed differences from back home but I’ve noticed differences from São Paulo (the city where my parents grew up and my family lives). Florianopolis is kind of the California of Brazil, while São Paulo is like its New York City. There are over 40 beaches on the island. Locals hike a lot and are very in tune with their environment. São Paulo is the industrial sector of the country, nicknamed the “Grey City” because of how much cement there is. Here in Floripa, our apartment complex has separate bins labeled for different recyclables (paper, plastic, and glass) and a bin for organic waste. In São Paulo I’ve never seen a recycle bin in anyone’s household. It’s really interesting to note these differences. I’ve found Floripa to be very consistent with their organization of waste. The separated bins are everywhere; apartments, shopping malls, airports and so on. There are also signs on all elevators that encourage people to take the stairs if you’re not planning on going up many stories. All the light switches have a reminder to turn off the light when leaving the room. Water fountains in offices and classrooms have cups that you can write your name on to use again. Apartments don’t have clothes dryers so we hang our clothes up to dry (using A LOT less energy doing laundry).

There’s a street market every Wednesday and Friday morning where you can buy organic produce straight from the farmer himself for ridiculously cheap (the most I’ve spent is US$10 for a week’s worth of produce)! What’s really awesome about these local farmer markets is that they are spread around the city in many neighborhoods so families never have to commute for their groceries, which reduces food miles drastically. Since we’re on the topic of transportation, owning a car here isn’t really common, especially for the younger generation. Cars here are extremely expensive and almost everything is within walking distance or can be reached by public transportation. I got really excited this week because I found a community compost program just like ours at Solana Center! The only difference is that they’ve created curbside pick-up and sell the compost they create to fund it. The group is called Revolucao dos Baldinhos.

These are just a few of the interesting things that I’ve discovered living here. Hope you find it as intriguing as I have!