My journey exploring the sustainability sector in Brazil

May 22, 2015
by Gwendoline

Green Rio 2015

Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the fourth edition of an event called Green Rio took place in the Botanical Garden of Rio de Janeiro.

Green Rio is a fair that brings together local and organic producers (of fruit, vegetables, honey, cheeses, sustainable cosmetics) as well as institutional players such as state representatives and Sebrae, the entity supporting small and medium companies.


This fourth edition of Green Rio was based on two pillars: sustainable food and bio economic partnership/ biodiversity.

A project promoting healthy food in schools was presented, with the idea that this project could incentivize more sustainable producers and create new jobs. This came as 3 million people in Brazil suffer from obesity before age 10, and research shows that unhealthy eating habits in childhood lead to serious health issues in adulthood.

7 states of the Amazon were put together in one project coordinated by Sebrae called “ Flower based cosmetics from the Amazon,” with the aim of valuing the extraordinary biodiversity of that region.

Producers included among others Sitio do Moinho, ABIO (Association of organic producers of the State of Rio) and Monama Orgânico, a really cool fun brand of organic granola and gluten free flours which is based in Sao Paulo and coming to Rio soon.

In parallel to the stands there was also an auditorium were roundtables took place addressing: eating local, sustainability and sustainable food within the Big Events, valuation of environmental assets, sustainable tourism etc.

I think this event is very valuable and should happen more than once a year. I had attended last year’s edition and find it disappointing to see that it has not really grown in size or impact. Unfortunately, even though there are some really great projects and brands, organic and sustainable producing still seems to be a niche discussion in Brazil.


February 2, 2015
by Gwendoline

Com Lola, slow design made in Brazil


For my birthday a few weeks ago, friends of mine gave me a purse and a little bag from an amazing brand called Com Lola. Com Lola is a studio of “slow design”. This means that all the products sold by the brand are hand made, using slow and low-tech processes.

The idea of Com Lola started in 2009 when the two co-founders Emika Takaki (illustrator) and Tânia Piloto (designer) decided to Continue Reading →

January 27, 2015
by Gwendoline

Women, Financial Education and the Future of Brazil

Planet Finance

A few days ago in Rio, I attended an important and exciting event titled “Entrepreneurship and financial education for women”. The event was organized by the government institution in charge of regulating the capital market in Brazil (CVM), a School of Financial education (Escola de Educação Financeira) that offers various training and workshops on these topics, and international NGO that supports and runs initiatives that improve access to financial services (PlaNet Finance).

The event was important because personal debt is a very serious issue in Brazil. Between 2007 and 2013, consumer loans more than doubled to around $600 billion in five years *, this is due to a large offering of coupons and credit cards, including credit cards that can charge 80% annual interest or more.

The abundant offering and the lack of transparency lead to a misuse of these tools. In a survey conducted by FGV on credit cards, only a third of the 1,000 people interviewed knew about the interest rates. Consequently, many people Continue Reading →

November 12, 2014
by Gwendoline

Ecotece: the Institute of Conscious clothing

Ecotece-Lia Spínola

I recently met Lia Spínola, President of Ecotece, the “Institute of conscious dressing” and she told me a bit about the wonderful work that they do in Brazil.

The Insitute Ecotece acts on 3 fronts:

– Promoting education and awareness: communicating and educating people about conscious clothing through lectures, conferences, content for publications among other things.

– Fostering social projects: empowering production groups, mainly craftswomen. They have groups Continue Reading →

October 20, 2014
by Gwendoline

ChemFreeCom: a community for chemical-free products and services!


A few months ago, in Rio I met Jillian Exton, the amazing co-founder of ChemFreeCom, the first global community for sharing and promoting chemical-free products and services.

Jillian is a breast cancer survivor. In her recovery she realized that so many of our modern health issues are caused or related to the chemicals in the products we consume such as our food, cosmetics or detergent, but also in the services we hire such as a gardening, hair dresser, pet care.

This observations is what led her to create, a website that will serve as a global e-directory of chemical free products and services, as well as a worldwide community of people who want to share information about this topic.

Through ChemFreeCom, you will be able to reduce your toxic profile, find toxic-free services and products, build your Continue Reading →

October 14, 2014
by Gwendoline

My week at TEDGlobal


Last week TEDGlobal happened in Rio and it was truly amazing.

When you watch the TED talks online you notice that there is a special energy about this event, that they have great speakers and a formula to make technical topics sound exciting and inspirational.

Well the TEDGlobal program lived up to these expectations, rich in emotions, wisdom and courage: from Robert Swan who talked about his exploration of the two poles and his fight to protect Antarctica through his project 2041, to Alessandra Orofino of MeuRio, who made a great case for Brazil’s new forms of political expression led by ordinary citizens, or Ethan Nadelmann saying that the war on drugs has to end, and many more (see full program here)



Being physically present at the conference however, takes you to a whole other level. You realize that this alchemy is also present off stage. During the week in a theatre created from scratch on the Copacabana beach, I realized that the people who attend TED are just as diverse and fascinating as the speakers. During coffee breaks, I found myself chatting about future of personalized healthcare with a businessman turned health expert after surviving cancer, I sat down for lunch with a young man who uses drones to make short films, and I stood in line with a woman who had created a TEDx in Siberia ! and the list could go on… My whole week was made up of such encounters.

But the real reason why this conference was particularly special to me wasn’t actually what was happening in Copacabana Continue Reading →

September 16, 2014
by Gwendoline
1 Comment

The most sustainable restaurant in Rio serves Spanish food !


Iberico, a restaurant serving traditional Spanish food with a modern touch in the Jardim Botanico neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, stands out for its commitment to the 3 pillars of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.

Regarding the environment, they invested in eco-friendly technology and renewable material. They built an organic garden Continue Reading →

July 28, 2014
by Gwendoline

São Paulo turning parking space into mini-parks


São Paulo is a city that has been called many things, but usually “green” or “pedestrian-friendly” isn’t one of them.

However, a project lead by Suzi Bolognese, a Brazilian-born Italian designer (Sb Design Studio) has been transforming parking spots of São Paulo into « parklets », which are mini-parks for pedestrians. The parklet concept and experience started in San Francisco in 2010, with the goal to make cities more human-centered, green and pleasant. It was a big success and was replicated in other cities of the US, Mexico and now Brazil.

Parklets typically take up the area of a few parking spaces and feature grass, benches, table, trees and spaces for bikes. They are leisure space for the city’s inhabitants. A pilot project had been introduced in the Brazilian business center during Environment week in 2013 and has proven so popular that the city intends to integrate more in the city landscape.

Could this be the beginning of a new effort to turn São Paulo into a less car-dominated capital?


July 1, 2014
by Gwendoline

2014 World Cup : A Failed Opportunity for Sustainability in Brazil

world cup

Half way into the 2014 World Cup, one looks at Brazil and thinks what a missed opportunity for sustainability this mega-event turned out to be.
Despite the commitments of FIFA and the local government to making the 2014 World Cup one of the “greenest” ever, it has underperformed on the three aspects of sustainability :

  • Environmental

Yes, features such as solar panels, waste reduction and energy efficiency measures have been implemented in the new stadiums and in the refurbishment of the epic Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro. However, stadiums have been built in cities which will only host a handful of matches during the World Cup Continue Reading →

June 17, 2014
by Gwendoline

Reverse Logistics — A Hope for Wastepickers


A while back, when I wrote a post about the recylcing effort of Instituto Coca-Cola in Brazil, I had mentioned the difficult reality of “catadores” (wastepickers) in this country.
A few weeks ago,a great sustainability website site called Reset wrote a series of  interesting stories about sustainability in Brazil, one of which presenting how BVRio is supporting the catadores and working on creating a Credit Market for waste. I have decided to re-post this story here. Feel free to check their website to read the other ones.


With the expected influx of 600,000 foreign and 3.1 million Brazilian soccer fans in the coming weeks, World Cup organisers estimate that 320 tonnes of solid waste will be generated from the June 12 to July 13 FIFA World Cup. Solid-waste management is a major challenge in urban areas throughout the world. What is the role of Reverse Logistics in waste management in Brazil? Continue Reading →