Like most developing countries, Brazil has prioritized rapid development and economic growth over sustainable practices and clean waste management. This isn’t a criticism of the country, but rather a sad reality that comes with aspiring to be an economic superpower. This fact was evident to me during my time in Salvador da Bahía, the third largest city in Brazil. While walking down the street, I didn’t see a single recycling bin, something I have definitely taken for granted in the United States. However, it wasn’t until my group traveled 8 hours into the interior of Brazil that I saw what it means to be green here.
Although Brazil does not prioritize the environment on a national scale, there are communities and regions in Brazil where they place a huge emphasis on the importance of the environment. For example, my group and I are staying in a town within the interior of Brazil called Capão for the next month. This community is very earthy and places a high emphasis on taking care of the environment and one’s self. They do this most tangibly through recycling and composting whenever possible. Because of this experience, I define being green in Brazil as a “hippie” concept; it is currently more of a religious philosophy than a nationally held belief.
What I have personally gained from this is a greater appreciation for the accessibility we have to recycling and other forms of green waste management in the U.S. It makes sense that Brazil currently isn’t concerned with green practices. Since their economy is heavily based upon agriculture, imposing any sort of environmentalist restrictions in the Brazil would both cost the country a lot of money and slow down its rapid economic growth. However, the fact that a green movement is starting to take place to some extent in Brazil convinces me that the country is still headed towards a culture of sustainability and green practices.