The problem blends with the transit of migrants who cross the region in search of the American drea...
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – Soon, those traveling in Brazil will return home with more than just memories in their luggage.
Tourists will also collect valuable information about conscientious consumption and how it impacts the preservation of nature.
That’s the purpose of the Ministries of Environment and Tourism’s Greenport campaign, which will launch in June in the 12 host cities of the 2014 World Cup – Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo.
“The campaign’s motto ‘Green Passport, Sustainable Tourism for a Living Planet’ is an appeal for the practice of environmental citizenship,” says Allan Milhomens, project manager for the Ministry of Environment and coordinator of the Green Passport campaign nationwide. “It’s a way to encourage tourists to recognize their roles as agents who can contribute to the conservation of the environment.”
The campaign will teach visitors how to enjoy their journey without neglecting the environment. Since 2010, the initiative has been held in Paraty, a historic city on the southern coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
Paraty was chosen as the campaign’s pilot city because of its rich historic, cultural and natural heritage and the social and cultural value of its communities.
“We also considered Paraty as a place for different kinds of tourism, including ecological, rural and cultural,” Milhomens says.
Tourists receive guidance from travel agents, tourism information centers and educational pamphlets. The campaign’s website, www.passaporteverde.gov.br, also offers tips.
The tips go beyond small actions, like disposing of garbage in the proper receptacles.
The campaign urges tourists to contribute to the locals’ economic and social development by learning their cultures and interacting with communities.
They also learn a visitor’s transportation choice directly impacts the amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the environment, as tourists are encouraged to take low-emission vehicles.
Another suggestion is to prioritize restaurants adhering to “sustainable gastronomy,” meaning they must use organic products from local farmers and fishermen, and they can’t serve fish or shrimp out of season.
Restaurants use local produce
The Sustainable Gastronomy program is among the initiatives Paraty has already established.
Seven of the city’s restaurants received the program label because they use organic products and food produced locally.
“With these measures, the visitor also has access to a healthier meal,” says Amaury Barbosa, Paraty’s secretary of culture, adding that since local produce doesn’t have to be transported from one city to another, it contains few or no preservatives.
Every year, Paraty welcomes nearly 600,000 tourists, according to the city’s Culture Department. But the change of habits has also directly affected the population of almost 35,000.
Initiatives change everyday life
Paraty officials held workshops and classes focused on environmental education to prepare the city to implement the campaign in 2008.
Currently, the population is adopting new habits, like the collection of kitchen oil.
Each liter of oil dumped down the drain contaminates the equivalent of a million liters (264,172 gallons) of water. The damage is also significant because residues are discharged into the soil, which contaminates groundwater, the subterraneous reservoirs of water.
Paraty residents discharge kitchen oil into plastic bottles and drop them off at collection sites to be recycled.
“Despite the intense process of raising awareness, we still face difficulties,” Milhomens says. “The campaign implies a change of behavior and review of the traditional practices that don’t take social and environmental issues into account.”
The Ministry of Environment highlights the garbage issue among the aspects that still need improvement.
“Paraty still doesn’t have a landfill,” Milhomens says. “Likewise, basic sanitation services demand a solution in the short term.”