Rio Tries to Ban Coconut Sales in the Beach. Measure Upsets Cariocas

Rio beach's young coconut Rio de Janeiro was about to lose one of its most enduring images, that of young coconuts opened and sold on its beaches.  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.



  • Show Comments (5)

  • MdC Suingue

    Easy money, that’s what atracts rats.
    This is not the first time the boxed coconut water lobby ‘convinces’ (read corrupt) the city council in order to gain that huge and lucrative market.
    The last mayor, Cesar Maia, tried the same trick with another excuse: that itÀ‚´s ‘dangerous’ to use cleavers to open the coconut.
    The reality is that the garbage problem is not coconut’s fault. The problem is that the carioca (Rio’s dwellers) has no education at all
    and the mayor has no interest in addressing this issue from the educational point of view.
    He said ‘60%’ of the garbage is result of coconut consumption, but a quick look on any garbage can in Rio proves him wrong.
    He is going to try this again, now it’s already forbidden to sell fresh fruit on the beaches – and take note of what I’m saying: very soon he will try to curb the sales of CAIPIRINHAS.
    How do I know that? There is a brand of industrial caipirinhas (that belongs to a VERY powerful family in Brazil) trying to enter in this other huge market.

  • Ric

    At the trucks coming in from the interior loaded with coconuts. Each represents people who make their living from the fruit. Biodegradable, much better for your health than pop/soda, natural. Is the soft drink industry behind this?

  • Zap

    Rio has bigger problems than empty coconut shells
    Oi MdC and Zico! You two have hit it right on the head … Cariocas are fun-loving people, but their sense of civic duty to keep their city and surrounding bays clean and safe leaves much to be desired … and Lula is promising to end the violence before the ’14 World Cup and ’16 Olympics?! haha … those athletes and, even more so, the spectators, will be sitting ducks for kidnappers and thieves, as well as for the price-gouging that will be instigated by the restaurant/bar owners, hotel operators, any-and-all retail shops, and the pay-us-or-your-car-might-disappear “guards” (protection racketeers) whom one always encounters when parking on the street in the better districts … some advice for those who go to Rio: never carry anything in pubic that you can’t easily replace, and give it up quickly if confronted by anyone with a weapon — never wear expensive jewelry, especially diamonds of any kind — keep your eyes open and your head on a swivel — don’t behave/have the body language of a victim — the police are useless, so never depend on them for assistance … … … but enjoy the people, the sights, the food (especially caitupiry and camarao pastels, and the fresh tropical fruits), the Sa’ada, and the beaches …

  • John R Miller

    Changing behavior
    This is a very tricky problem, changing cultural behavior. I think there is universal agreement, that littering is a problem in Rio. It requires a lot of small changes to have an affect. Some that I would recommend:
    1) Ban selling plastic straws with drinks close to the beach (this has happened in Australia), they are very hard for the sand rubbish filter machines to pick up, take years to break down, and in the interim are lethal to marine life.
    2) Make the people who make money selling on the beach be part of the soln. All those barracas need to do a lot more about the rubbish created from what they sell.
    3) Imposing fines would not work, just a waste of paper work. You have to shame people into action here through peer pressure.

  • Zico

    An expensive fine helped remove littering from the American culture. Here in Brasil, I have never seen anyone walk 2 meters to a garbage can to throw away a soda can. There must be some bio-recoverable value to a coconut shell, let the city pay the kids stealing things on the beach to clean it up at night. And, when I’ve been in Rio, I never found empty coconut shells to be a problem, but replacing them with cans and paper boxes would be. Silly, silly, issue.

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