The Bucket Revolution: a project for the recovery of organic waste in Brazil

In Florianópolis, in the south of the country, the “small bucket” system that allows for the storage of organic waste at home, and its transformation into fertilizer for vegetable gardens and gardens, is giving great results and has even won an international award. The volunteers of Revolucao dos Baldinhos are promoting the community composting process

Andressa Collet – Vatican News

The food left on the plates after a meal can end up directly in the garbage or start a sustainable path for the environment, giving life to a home composting system. From here begins the cycle of damp which becomes organic fertilizer rich in nutrients for the production of new foods ready to prepare our tables. Difficult to implement? Not if awareness and knowledge are our greatest allies, as happens with a project in Florianópolis, in Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil.

The “Revolução dos Baldinhos” (aka “Revolution of Buckets”) promotes community composting by working on waste management and developing urban agriculture. In 2008, when this association was founded, the goal was to solve a serious problem of pollution and contamination due to incorrect waste management, which led to rat infestations in the city and the death of many people from various pathologies . Today the project operates in two of the 12 communities of the “Complexo de Monte Cristo”, inhabited by 35,000 citizens. According to Cíntia Cruz, community leader and president of the association, 2,400 families are currently oriented towards correct disposal and conscious consumption but there is good hope of involving even more.

“I believe that every collective action has an impact – he says – above all because the community has embraced the project and believed that we can make a difference, change our reality by separating our waste, enhancing the space for coexistence and relationships. The project – continues Cíntia – has brought great potential to the community. We are talking about various types of action, not only the protection of the planet, but the quality of life, food sovereignty, empowerment”.

Volunteers collect garbage house-to-house twice a week




Volunteers collect garbage house-to-house twice a week

The power of social “technology”.

The “Revolução dos Baldinhos” was born in collaboration with the Federal University of Santa Catarina and the participation of the residents of the “Complexo do Monte Cristo”, making families aware of the recycling of food waste to transform it into organic compost. After the selection carried out in homes, schools and kindergartens, we move on to public collection but special attention is paid to organic waste, in fact. Stored in a special “bucket”, these scraps are taken by the volunteers of the program who then process them into fertilizer that the residents use in their gardens and kitchen gardens to fertilize the soil and produce new and wholesome foods. The composting plant used in this project receives an average of 8 tons of waste per month. Cíntia explains how the whole process works: “we have 32 voluntary delivery points within the community, where the residents dispose of the rest of their food, that is, everything that has been peeled, that is left over from lunch, all materials organic. We go to these spots twice a week – every Tuesday and Friday – we collect them and take them to the facility that operates within the community. We do the treatment, through composting, and return bags of manure to the family to promote urban agriculture. Through the composting project, we cultivate and strengthen relationships, both with the environment and among the residents themselves, many of whom are really enthusiastic about being able to contribute to environmental protection in this way too”.

The 8 tons of waste received per month are treated and turned into compost




The 8 tons of waste received per month are treated and turned into compost

The project and its benefits, in addition to the awards in Brazil, were also internationally recognized in Germany in 2019. The World Future Council (WFC) has in fact certified the initiative as “one of the 15 agroecological practices of excellence in the world” for the use of “a socially replicable technology” and for having met the sustainability criteria of the FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). In Brazil, it is estimated that more than 60% of all waste generated is of an organic nature, we are talking about 37 million tons. Even according to 2019 data from the Brazilian Association of Public Cleaning and Special Waste Companies (Abrelpe), only 1% of what is discarded is reused to become fuel gas, energy and fertilizer. The use of the composting technique, therefore, brings advantages both to the environment, by reducing the generation of methane gas harmful to the atmosphere, and to public health, by improving hygiene indicators, as well as turning the economy around by promoting employment and income of the people involved in the activities of the organic cycle.

The composting technique, at home or in the community, brings benefits to the environment




The composting technique, at home or in the community, brings benefits to the environment

Conscious consumption

“The mitigation of the effects of the current imbalance depends on what we do now”, already anticipated Pope Francis in Laudato si’ (LS 161), commenting on the catastrophic forecasts and the consequences of climate change and pollution, also due to waste that we will leave to the next generations due to the “rhythm of consumption, waste and alteration of the environment” which is exceeding the possibilities of the planet (LS 161). “The Pope is very dynamic, courageous and firm in advancing the cause of the environment and some issues that need to be discussed by humanity, above all the issue of conscious consumption” – says Cíntia -. You think that today human beings have no notion of how to properly inhabit the Earth. “This is why it is really necessary to discuss it, trying to adopt good practices. I think that at the basis of everything there must be love of neighbor and compassion; one must understand that only the people save the people, especially in the fight against social inequality. We need to help each other, come together. And I believe that the Pope’s action can strengthen this ‘struggle’, above all to eradicate poverty. So this work of comparison, of bringing these issues today that are often taboo for some parts of society, is fundamental”.

Lastly, Cíntia reiterates the Pope’s thought, betting on the “Revolução dos Baldinhos” for the transformation of people: “collective construction has the strength and power to transform, in fact, not only our habits, but our relationships, our future, that of the entire human community. The impact that the project has in strengthening these relationships is enormous and it is very gratifying to understand that we can do beyond what the system offers”.

The Bucket Revolution: a project for the recovery of organic waste in Brazil – Vatican News