A Sao Paulo shopping center uses waste to grow vegetables for employees on a roof-top farm, all while reducing its environmental footprint. Sharon Reich reports.
A group in Sao Paolo is putting an innovative twist on roof top farming. Using trash from the shopping mall's food court, these employees are transforming garbage into compost to grow vegetables and herbs on the mall's rooftop. Besides providing food for employees to take home, the initiative aims to reduce the mall's carbon footprint, by reducing the amount of trash that needs to get trucked to a garbage dump. About 400 kilos of organic waste, that's more than 880 lbs, are generated every day from the malls eateries, explains Cicero Evangelista, who is in charge of recycling. SOUNDBITE: Cicero Evangelista, Leader of recycling, saying (Portuguese): "The recycling process begins in the food court. The employee separates the waste and it comes to the recycling centre, which I am responsible for. We weigh the material and add enzymes that eliminate bacteria, reduce humidity and accelerate decomposition. This is how we turn organic waste into organic compost." With the compost, collaborators plant a variety of pesticide-free vegetables including lettuce, eggplants, onions, peppers as well as basil, mint, tomatoes and strawberries. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LEADER OF RECYCLING, CICERO EVANGELISTA, SAYING: "We notice that people waste a huge amount of food, so beyond our objective of creating organic compost, we use this to create new food. It is a cycle in which we make food out of food. This is what it means to be sustainable." In an effort to save as much waste as possible, workshops are held for mall employees so they can learn how to best collect garbage from their stores. The hope is that over time, this will help further reduce the amount of waste that goes to dumps and lessen carbon emissions as well. Food court worker Neide Lopes says it pays off to put in the extra effort. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) FOOD COURT EMPLOYEE, NEIDE LOPES, SAYING: "The initiative is active and creative ... and they distribute the produce among us, so it's very good. It is a way of reducing waste, and we receive food that we don't have to pay for, that's the best part!" Now that's something to feel good about. A project that reuses, reduces and has social benefits.