Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lessons from Brazil: Lesson 2: Paper Products Everywhere!

As many of you know, I got back recently from a whirlwind trip to Salvador, Brazil for the wedding of my beloved nephew and his wonderful wife. I was only there for a short time but it was life-changing. So I decided to start a short blog series called "Lessons from Brazil" to share about this trip, to help me to process it, and to inspire you.

Brazilians in Salvador like to conserve paper. What does this mean?

This means that there is no "paper" option for bagging groceries at the store. There are no Kleenexes, napkins, and paper towels on every counter, spilling out of dispensers for patrons in restaurants and in hotel rooms. There is toilet paper, but you just use a small amount, and once you are done you put it in a very small container in the bathroom about as big as a woman's purse which is emptied daily. The few paper napkins I saw were one-ply and very tiny, a little bigger than a sheet of toilet paper.

Have you ever noticed how we throw paper products around? Here we even use paper plates, and some of us (I'm guilty!) eat off of them because I don't want to do dishes--poor me, I don't have a dishwasher! For many of us, our household shopping is done in multiple boxes from Amazon (guilty again!) because of the free shipping--this results in us having large trash bags full of packaging to dispose of in huge cans each week. We can't even lift the cans as they are so big and heavy--we have to drag them on wheels. In Salvador, they set their little plastic grocery bags out by the curb or on a little stand for pickup. People don't spend the money for large dedicated "trash bags"--there is no money to spend in such a way--it would probably seem silly.

We definitely have an abundance of paper products here, but I'm wondering if we could conserve more. It would be good for the trees and for the environment. Even though we recycle, I think we could do better.


Anonymous said...

I have made some attempts to cut down on my paper use. I use tea towels in the kitchen rather than paper towels MOST of the time. I recycle envelopes from mail and junk mail to use for my shopping lists. For my students, all worksheets are printed on both sides of a sheet of paper. But still! We are very wasteful in upper North America, me included. (P.S. I sent you an email.)

Olivia said...

Good for you, Kelly! Just think, you use HALF the amount of paper in the classroom. That's a lot! Good for you, and great ideas. xoO

Kate said...

There are things you can do as I think you know. I will add what I do. I use cloth napkins, I recycle cardboard either into my own art or at a recycling center. Using mail envelopes for lists is one I have also done. I save the tags off clothing as they can be used in art too. I use cloth shopping bags but that a plastic issue. I think every little bit helps.


Olivia said...

Hi, Kate,
It's really fun to see what other people do. That's a great idea to save things that can be reused as "found" objects in art. I know that early on in my collage work I enjoyed using dryer lint--I should get back to that.
I agree with you that every little bit does help a lot. If we each do our part, things will change.

Love to you, My Queen,


Jane said...

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was in Brazil. I don't remember the paper thing there but I do know what you mean about how Americans throw it around wastefully. Sometimes in the kitchen when I really get in the cooking zone, I realize that I have used a dozen paper towels. Our trash cans are always full too. I need to think of better ways to be more considerate.

Olivia said...

I know, Jane, I'm the same way. But now I am reusing the paper products so much more now. And oftentimes making other choices. Moving in a good direction makes me feel good. xoO

CrystalChick said...

We do recycle paper and other products but I know we could do ALOT better! Yikes, just this morning at the diner we went through I don't know how many thick napkins (I was dipping them in the leftover water from a glass on the table) wiping the syrup off my grandson's hands and face. What a good lesson here, I should have a washcloth with me for the little guy who is very messy at 3 1/2.

Interesting post!

Olivia said...

Thanks, Mary. Yes, we could all do a lot better, that's for sure. It's pretty much the norm here to waste things, even in the Pacific Northwest.

Washcloths instead of napkins--yes!

Thanks for commenting, Mary, and have a great weekend! xoO