The AdverBarbie World Tour Part 4: Testing the Eco Waters in South America

Photo: Alicia Benz & Michelle Pokorny
The tale of how 2 young advertising talents made the journey to being green through traveling

So our blond duo is on the road to Brazil! Though Sydney was a learning curve?

If you are just tuning in make sure you check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the tour!

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Oi Oi!  This is Adverbarbie, reporting in from Sao Paulo, Brazil deep in South America.  It’s where the fruits are fresh and the Latino boys are even fresher!  Sao Paulo is the richest city in the southern hemisphere and the worlds 7th largest metropolitan area.  If someone were to ask, are you in Sao Paulo for business or pleasure, 99% of the time the response is likely to be business.  It is one of the major financial epi-centers of the world, and is an important destination for conferences and international events.  How did the two blonde “Gringa Barbies” fare in Sao Paulo? Read on to find out.

After a wonderful quarter in Australia, we were itching for change. It was in this soccer-obsessed city we submersed ourselves in yet another culture that we were completely foreign to.

Sao Paulo, although impressive, definitely missed the memo on urban planning.  Getting to work everyday is no quick and easy feat.  The urban sprawl is gargantuan; it’s a comingling of skyscrapers and shacks, super-stores and sandwich shops. First thing in the morning, we battle the masses in the underground metro.  Next we jump on a rickety bus dubbed “The Orca,” where we bumble through the hilly cobblestone neighborhoods.  Not only do you lose your sense of direction, but we’ve come pretty close to losing our breakfast on this exciting yet extremely bumpy ride.  Never a dull morning, that’s for sure.

Lets get down to it, can a fast rising nation like Brazil keeping up with the rest of the world’s ecological efforts?  The answer is: not yet.  Brazil was recently named the least green country in the world, and we know exactly why; the disappearing Amazon rainforest.  As we flew across the country, we looked down in dismay at the lack of flora and fauna.  What was once the most gorgeous and jungle in the world is now mostly cut down to farm cattle. 

Their recycling programs are practically non-existent.  The emissions from cars and buses causes the biggest, densest smog clouds above a city that we’ve ever experienced.  Every day when we come home we have to shower immediately, because the dirty air and stench of open sewage seeps into everything.  Washing my face actually stings my eyes.

Also, vegetarianism is a foreign concept.  Imagine the trouble we’ve encountered, trying to find meat substitutes in the land of the Churrascurria.   One afternoon we wandered into a little Japanese neighborhood, and it was like we struck gold, because they were selling tofu!  We lived for the weekly farmers market, where we could get our produce right off the back of the farmers truck.

The prevalence of poverty in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero is a major issue as well.  The favela neighborhoods are horrifically dirty, and wrack up ghastly amounts of rubbish. If only they were aware of the havoc their massive country is wreaking on the environment, and how they could make small, yet beneficial changes, our suspicion is that they would be more than willing to adapt their ways. It basically comes down to a lack of environmental education.   Brazilians have an intense passion for life and they truly live to the fullest and in the moment. We have experienced some of the nicest, open people in the world.

There is a glimmer of hope for Brazil.  New organic produce and products have vaguely made their way to grocery shelves.  We even saw new a recycling station set up next to a local shopping center.  But, for its sheer size and population, it definitely no where near were it should be in the green effort department.  We are hoping that with the continued growth and influx of new revenue, Brazil can turn over a new leaf, and literally stop killing off its wealth of natural wonders and species.

What Brazil lacks in eco-consciousness, it makes up for in natural beauty.  We visited the Iguaçu waterfalls, located on the border of Argentina and Peru, and it was breathtaking.  Rainbows, butterflies, monkeys; this natural sanctuary blew us away.  The beaches and mountains surrounding Rio de Janiero are the most picturesque we’ve ever laid eyes on.  It was like a being in a 360 panoramic post-card! Not only is Brazil rich in culture and a life-loving society, but some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

As we begin to pack it up, and leave Brazil, turns out we’ve grown here more than any other stop on the AdverBarbie World Tour.  While some people use their environment as an excuse to indulge in a harmful way of life, we used it as fuel to feed our passion for what we believe in.  Instead of breaking down, and integrating to a wasteful lifestyle, trashing personal health, we always made concerted effort to use the bare minimum and took the incentive to eat as healthy as possible.  We stuck like glue to the miniscule organic aisle, and did the best we could to avoid overly-processed pesticide laden foods.  Finally after months of trying our best and taking it day by day, we were leading by example.

We even started making our own raw granola bars! By melting together peanut butter, honey, and oats, we created an instant worry-free healthy snack.  While everyone else munched on chips and candy bars, we were able to show off our delicious tasty looking organic health food.

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Read more:

The AdverBarbie World Tour Part 1: Meet the Girls


The AdverBarbie World Tour Part 2: Buying Less, Buying Local & Buying Re-usable Bags

The AdverBarbie World Tour Part 3: The Tour Moves to the Southern Hemisphere