Julia at Rio Real has an excellent piece up on how Carnaval is straining sustainability in the city of Rio de Janeiro. For example:
Informal recyclers– some of whom are the people who stay overnight on the beach– quickly pick up the aluminum cans and smash them for selling. But– note to Ambev– that still leaves the plastic wrapping the cans and the ice to cool them, plus all kinds of other trash.
By last Thursday, this totaled 400 tons. Multiply by three, and you get the weight of Rio’s Christ Redeemer statue. Another 170 tons were collected in the weekend prior to Carnival, and more is sure to have piled up last weekend, also part of the bloco calendar, when the Carnival parade of champions took place.
Suffice to say, 400 tons is a lot, and makes for unsanitary conditions. Adding to the toll on the environment in the short-term during carnival is urine. Why would urine in public be a problem? Well…
According to one calculation, Rio street revelers managed to drink a total of 600,000 cans’ worth [of beer] an hour.
That is a remarkable degree of alcohol consumption. While I remember seeing beer cans everywhere when in Rio during Carnaval, the number is something totally different from the image of revelers with cans in hand, and it serves as a powerful reminder that, in spite of the revelry, there are some real downsides to Caranval in environmental terms, politics, and economics. The whole thing is fascinating, if periodically alarming (or even depressing), and worth checking out in its entirety.