Rio de Janeiro was about to lose one of its most enduring images, that of young coconuts opened and sold on its beaches.Â The environment secretariat of the host city of the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games argued that the big green fruit is an unhygienic eyesore and had decided to ban its sale starting December first.
Mayor Eduardo Paes decided to cancel the measure of the SMA (Environment Secretariat) after the announcement provoked an uproar among Cariocas (Rio's Residents).
"Go on Ipanema Beach at the end of the day and you'll see a mountain of coconuts that people have left on the sand," said Jovanildo Savastano, the official in charge of the beaches. Up to 30 tons of empty coconuts are recovered every day, he said.
According to now abandoned plan beachgoers with a craving for coconut juice would still be able to slake their thirst, but only by buying it in bottles or cans.
Environmentalists say the fruit is biodegradable and has no negative ecological impact. Its liquid is also excellent for health, they say.
Paes has offered to rethink the ban, but only if the thousands of people hitting the beaches pick up after themselves.
"This ban favors companies more than the people," environmentalist Gerhard Sardo said, stressing that empty drink cans are already a problem.
Besides cleaning up Rio beaches, Brazilian President Lula da Silva vowed last month to ensure The Marvelous City is also free from violence during its hosting of the 2016 Olympic Games.