Paddling, Cleaning, Teaching, Brazil

APRENDER Ecology (Actions for the Preservation of Natural Resources and Reasonable Economic Development) aims to protect the environment as well as diffuse and collective rights, the preservation of natural resources, and rational economic development. APRENDER seeks to improve the quality of life through environmental education while encouraging the exercise of eco-citizenship and volunteering.

The project was created in August 2016 to raise awareness of the magnitude of the marine plastic pollution issue. Paddling on standup boards, the organisation cleans up vast stretches of coastal environments within Atlantic forest protected areas, whilst also organising activities in schools and events for communities en route, to raise awareness and engage people to get involved in coastal and marine conservation.  The major educational focus is on children, stimulating the development of environmentally conscious adults. They use social media, local television and radio programmes to inform, advocate and engage people along the way. Funding from EOCA will help fund a fourth expedition which will collect plastic and trash as it paddles 1,000 km along the coastline of the states of Paraná, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, where there is the most significant stretch of Atlantic forest remnant in Brazil.  380 clean ups of the beaches and islands they encounter will result in plastic being collected and then being transformed into toys to be donated to local children, as well as chairs and tables. The project intends to reach 10,000 students and volunteers during their expedition.

With many thanks to EOCA member  LEADERSHIP & SUSTAINABILITY, which gave a sizeable donation to this project in December 2021.

The Update

This project is off to a great start! So far, the team have paddled an impressive 430km from Guaratuba to Praia Grande, collecting an incredible 1 tonne of rubbish. Clean-ups have been carried out on all beaches along the route, including a number of different ecosystems and world biodiversity hotspots. These protected areas included mangroves, rainforests and rocky coasts.

The substantial amount of rubbish found in the coastal and marine areas along the way has been quite unexpected. The scale of the problem in certain locations has also resulted in a number of ‘rubbish hotspots’ being identified. Plans are now in place to return to those most badly affected to carry out further clean-ups.

All the rubbish that has been collected, including plastic bottles and bags, straws and fishing gear, has been given to Eco Local Brazil for recycling. The vast majority of the plastic waste will be reused to produce benches, toys, surfing fins and other useful items.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the project has not been able to organise as many activities with schools as originally planned. Only one school so far, with over 290 students, has been involved. However, as schools start to reopen, engaging and working with students will be a top priority.

Final Update:
The project completed in May 2022 and, despite the complications and challenges the pandemic brought, it has been an immensely successful project. The team paddled their way across 963km, covering 3 states, 21 districts, and 22 protected areas of Brazil. During their expedition they collected over 3 tonnes of rubbish, much of which has been recycled by Eco Local Brasil (as outlined above).

Following the reopening of schools, the team focussed on bringing awareness to students about the issue of sea litter and its impacts on ecosystems: they successfully visited 49 schools and involved over 7,500 students in this important educational topic.

The dedicated team at APRENDER will continue with their important clean-up activities and environmental education in schools – we wish them every success with this incredibly important work.

(For more detailed information on this fantastic project – including amazing photos – please see their final report attached above under ‘related resources’).

Image: Beach Cleaning with a Stand Up Paddleboard