Basic Income for Zero Waste Mission in Bahia

My mission is to demonstrate how our personal lifestyle positively impacts our life conditions on this planet - no matter where we live. I am Swiss, living and working in Bahia, Brazil since 2019 as a Zero Waste Ambassador and as a project manager of a circular economy program that prevents illegal waste disposal in a tropical paradise.

With EUR 1000 per month I will be able to finance my minimalist zero-waste lifestyle and finance a part of my projects. My challenge is to use the basic income to pay for my living expenses and to invest into on my projects for one year. Especially in uncertain times, funding of large-scale projects and social innovation programs such as mine takes much effort and time.

My work and my life consistently complement each other: I live zero waste, which means that I produce almost zero waste in my everyday life. I blog about this on my Instagram profile @casa_lixozero.

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Persistence is the path to success

Since 2013, I have been engaging in the fight against plastic pollution as president of the association STOPPP- Stop Plastic Pollution. In 2018, we conducted the «Swiss Litter Report» in partnership with WWF Switzerland. It is the most comprehensive study on littering in Switzerland’s water bodies to date. The report proves that plastic pollution in Swiss waters is constantly growing. It is a sad fact that Switzerland, as the water castle of Europe, is no longer fulfilling its responsibility for clean waters.

In 2017, on a consulting trip for an eco-resort in Brazil, I visited the Maraú Peninsula, a tropical paradise with a catastrophic environmental problem. The entire garbage of the tourism area, 5000 tons per year, are illegally dumped into a sensitive mangrove area with leakage into rivers and the ocean. The situation was shocking to me because residents and local authorities are aware of the situation, yet no one undertakes anything to change it.

Thanks to my education as a linguist and journalist, my training as a Sustainable Lifestyle Educator and being a Circular Economy advocate, I pretty soon found a simple and sustainable solution to the problem and packed it into a «Sustainable Tourism Program». The program has been certified by the UN One Planet Network and follows the Zero Waste rule: rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle & rot.

With a smart education program, we help local people to rethink their consumption and produce less waste and separate different materials.

In a second step, we develop the infrastructure to enable local processing of organic materials such as kitchen waste, food scraps, garden waste, coconuts. Organic waste accounts for over half of the total waste volume of 5000t/year and is a valuable resource that needs to be converted into fertile soil. The Swiss Embassy in Brazil recognized the importance of closing the material cycles and therefore co-financed the first composting center in the region, the Vila Circular in the community of Algodões. Thanks to this contribution and the support of the local community, Vila Circular today processes over a ton of kitchen waste per month into compost and produces and sells coconut fibers for various purposes. Part of the compost is used for Vila Circular’s permaculture garden for the production of organic food for the local community.

The third part of the PLZ program consists of a reverse logistics system, which ensures that most of the inorganic waste is taken to recycling facilities through waste picker organizations. The program teaches consumers a clean separation of waste materials and encourages returnable packaging for beverages and other consumer goods. It achieves that more than 90% of the waste is deviated from the landfill in the mangroves.

The program is very complete, has broad support and is already a great success. However, a strong leader team and consistent funding is needed to implement the program as a whole. As project manager, I am not yet paying myself a salary so that we can put the scarce resources directly into the project work - which has already paid off.

This is what I need backing for.

For Europeans, EUR 1000 per month is at best a welcome support, but it does not cover basic needs such as food, housing, health & mobility. Here in Bahia I will be able to finance my entire living expenses and still pre-finance certain costs of my projects. The basic income I am funding here is not meant to be an unconditional support, but is tied to the condition that I continue to document my minimalist zero-waste lifestyle and implement the PLZ program.

Here’s how the EUR 1000 per month will be spent:

  • EUR 210 (R$ 1175) housing, electricity and internet
  • EUR 179 (R$ 1000) organic zero-waste food, natural household products
  • EUR 214 (R$ 1200) maintenance house, food garden, quad (transportation)
  • EUR 185 (R$ 1036) international health insurance
  • EUR 72 (R$ 400) transportation

EUR 860 TOTAL for living expenses

EUR 140 (R$ 784) remaining to be invested in project financing

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