Recycling guru also comes to river’s rescue
RIO DE JANEIRO — On a trash-filled river in Rio de Janeiro, passersby look in awe as Luiz Fernando Barreto floats atop the home he has assembled from scrap wood, plastic, and metal.
Known locally as “Luiz Bispo,” the 55-year-old who considers himself an artist and philosopher even has his own small circular swimming pool and van on board.
“I have an incredible personal satisfaction knowing that I built it with recycled material,” he said from inside his vessel, with windows made from old wardrobes.
The main aim of his floating home, Barreto says, is to make politicians pay attention to environmental issues in the popular tourist destination.
Raw sewage and garbage have taken over the water of the Pavuna River that Barreto calls home in the picturesque city of Rio de Janeiro. He scoops up dirty water into a plastic container he uses to filter plastic and trash from the water as it trickles back into the river.
“If there’s a product on the planet that’s really valuable, it is neither diamonds nor gold,” he said, sitting on an old sports car seat he attached to the raft.
Invite to Greta
“Water has always been valuable, and always will be. Without water, there’s no life,” he said.
Barreto, who grew up in one of Rio’s many impoverished neighborhoods, known as favelas, said he wishes global environmental activists like Greta Thunberg would come see the issues in Rio, particularly the polluted Guanabara Bay that surrounds the city.
“Come to Rio de Janeiro, come help us, come walk along Guanabara Bay. … It’s humble here on my little boat, but it’s made entirely of recycled material. Come swim in my pool, the water is clean, come Greta, help me clean Guanabara Bay.”
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