Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Unravelling...


Happy Earth Day 2010 everyone.

The Good News: We won 1st place in a film contest on Climate Change awareness, chosen by Al Gore, and featured on the youtube home page!

The Bad News: Woke up and saw the huge SMOG situation over Sao Paulo

Today’s blog post is dedicated to the cause we are most passionate about: raising consciousness on climate change. I know, I know you’re probably tired of the preaching and the protesting, but its time for everyone to step it up a notch, and start acting on what you already know. So…we’ve included 12 facts and 10 tips on to keep all of you guys informed & inspired on going GREEN.

12 True Facts: These scare us, and keep us up at night ☹

1.)The way that we breed animals for food is a threat to the planet. It pollutes our environment while consuming huge amounts of water, grain, petroleum, pesticides and drugs. The results are disastrous.
2.)The meat industry is a major cause of fresh water depletion. According to Ed Ayres, of the World Watch Institute, "Around the world, as more water is diverted to raising pigs and chickens instead of producing crops for direct consumption, millions of wells are going dry.
3.)Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it.
4.)Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius) around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades, according to NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.
5.)Manure. The tens of billions of farmed animals of the world produce massive amounts of manure, which emit green house gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.
6.)Synthetic Fertilizer. Growing feed for farmed animals requires intense use of synthetic fertilizers manufactured with fossil fuels. This process emits a tremendous amount of CO2, and the fertilizer releases nitrous oxide[3] – a greenhouse gas that is 296 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
7.)Exposure to pesticides found in non-organic foods have been linked to breast and other types of cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system disorders, reproductive damage, and disruption of hormonal systems. U.S. consumers can experience up to 70 daily exposures to residues from pesticides through their diets.
8.)Eating a vegan diet prevents the equivalent of 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions every year, more than the 1 ton of CO2 emissions prevented by switching from a typical large sedan to a Toyota Prius. In 2006, the United Nations issued a report which stated that the livestock industry as a whole was responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than the whole of the transport sector put together.
10.) The average meat eater, eats around 95 animals per year, or around 200lbs of red meat alone. Oh No! That’s a lot of animals.
11.)Worldwide, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used
# Although plastic bags are recyclable, less than 3% of them actually are. The rest end up in landfills, oceans, and as litter.
12.)Research has shown that up to 60% of what we apply to our skin may be absorbed into the bloodstream. So if we are concerned about the food that we eat and strive to eat more organic products due to a concern over pesticides and other chemicals, then we should also be concerned about the ingredients that go in to our cosmetics and toiletries. Many of the ingredients in conventional health and beauty products are very toxic chemicals.

10 Tips that seriously can change the world. We are doing EVERY single one of them. DAILY.

1.)Becoming vegetarian is one of the most important and effective actions you can take to ease the strain on our Earth’s limited resources, protect the planet from pollution, prevent global warming, and save countless species from extinction.
2.)Pass up one hamburger, and you’ll save as much water as you save by taking 40 showers with a low-flow nozzle.
3.)Take a break from driving. Consider walking, biking, taking a bus or carpooling whenever feasible. And if you have more than one vehicle, drive the one with the best gas mileage whenever you can.
4.)Think about your refrigerator. Don’t locate this particular appliance in direct sunlight or next to the stove or dishwasher. Also, unplug that extra fridge, especially if it’s just keeping a six-pack cold.
5.)Buy Local! Choose your meal based on what's in season now, and available locally. Aim to buy as much as possible food grown and produced within 100 miles of home, saves energy and gas.
6.)Reusing just one bag in your daily life (grocery/home shopping, trips to the beach/pool, gym, picnics, festivals, travel, etc.) can “eliminate” the use of approximately 6 plastic bags every week, that s 288 per year, 20,000 bags if you do it for life.
7.)Brew "certified" coffee. A USDA Certified Organic label means it was grown using sustainable standards. Not brewing at home? Take a travel cup to your favorite java joint; they may fill it at a discount.
8.)Compost your food and yard scraps. Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That's a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead! We freeze our veggie scraps, then put them in the apt complex compost pile when the freezer is full.
9.)Buy Green cleaning products only. Many chemicals contain toxins, including poisonous elements, cancer causing irritants, skin irritants, and harmful products for your respiratory system. Each of these is likely in your cabinet right now. There is evidence that these products wind up in water sources where they cause reproductive effects in wildlife.
10.)Use energy efficient lights. Energy saving bulbs use around one third of the power that normal light bulbs do. Replacing a single bulb in every American home with energy saving bulbs would reduce pollution by the equivalent of one million cars operating on US roads. This is a lot of pollution, and energy saving bulbs can help prevent it.

It only takes 3 weeks to form a habit, so start making little changes today, and watch those karma points pour on in!


Friday, April 16, 2010


Whether it’s a new account, or someone cool in town, Ogilvy Brasil is DTP (down to party.) Yesterday morning, one of our new friends at work, Amanda, excitedly came up to me and started speaking rapid Portuguese about something occurring that night. Eventually, after a congenial mix of Spanish, English, and probably Chinese, I figured out there was a huge bash at the agency, complete with open bar and catered food! Woohoo!

Sure enough, at 7pm the bass started pumping, and everyone scuttled downstairs to the lobby-turned-nightclub. Never ending caprihinas, bebidas de engergia, and cervezas were being poured by the dozen. Check out the very enthusiastic Brazilian bartenders.

My favorite quote that summed up the night: “These parties are like the carrot in front of the donkey. Gives us something to work for. Keeps us very happy!”
–unknown employee we were talking to

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brazilian Street Corn!

“Go to Mercado Central for the AMAZING food.” –Rafa

This was the advice we got from Rafa at Ogilvy Brasil, on what to do our first Saturday in Sao Paulo. So we go to the market, expecting tons and tons of “amazing food.” Did we find it? Sort of.

By “AMAZING food” I guess he meant street corn and sugar peanuts, because we couldn’t find anything else but that.

Street corn is Sao Paulo’s equivalent to a NYC hot dog stand. Every corner has a vendor selling cobs out of a cauldron of hot water. For $2 rais, you can get a cob of corn, served to you in a bowl with butter and salt. Oh, and did we mention how each is complete with a corn husk napkin? Never have I seen so many people selling corn on the street! It’s a standard snack around here I guess. Then people are just standing around devouring the bowls of hot corn, lol. Maybe they got the inspiration for corn flakes cereal in Sao Paulo.

Also, on the streets you can buy these nuts, that are the equivalent of Chicago’s “Nutz on Clark” peanuts, with caramelized sugar and salt. They are cooking them right on the street, so it smells devine!

Needless to say, both options are indeed, AMAZING. Thanks Raf!

Brazilian Street Corn from aliciabenz on Vimeo.


Vegetarian in Paradise

Vegetarian in Paradise

When we first arrived, we were pretty close to a panic attack when it came to the local grocery store; small, dingy, low ceilings, weird brands, and no organic anything. If you know AdverBarbie, we are kind of obsessed with living green and buying everything organic, so it was a pretty traumatic experience. You should have seen the email that I sent to my parents about the food situation! My mom had to FedEx a 26lb package from the States, ASAP.

Luckily, we found out why the grocery store had a pathetic excuse for a produce department. Every Sunday they set up VEGETABLE HEAVEN down the street. We’re talking the most luscious and abundant farmers market I have ever seen, and it happens only 3 blocks away from our apartment! Every fruit and veggie imaginable is lined up for a half a mile of pure vegetarian bliss. To make things even more delectable, the prices are obscenely cheap. We spent the equivalent of $20 USD on vegetables that would cost $100 USD at Whole Foods.

For dinner that night, Alicia concocted a gourmet vegetable succotash. The fresh vegetables and herbs were absolutely exploding with flavor. It’s incredible the difference in taste vegetables can have when they aren’t being genetically mutated and sprayed with pesticides. When we come back from Brazil, expect to see us glowing from all the wonderful produce we will be indulging in :D

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Culture Shock, Sao Paulo Edition

What you’ve all been waiting for:
Culture Shock, Sao Paulo Edition

It’s been almost a week, and we have some things to report. Here is a report on all the wonderful discomforts we have experienced thus far.

We stick out- Two blonde American girls in a city filled with 90% Brazilians. Its like we’re famous... but in the annoying, uncomfortable, everyone-is-always-staring at you famous. Sucks.

We can’t talk to anyone- Literally can’t ask for help, directions, how to get hot water, how to get from point A to B…nothing. They know absolutely zero English. And Spanish… does not translate due to an EXTREME difference in pronunciation, as well as vocab and grammatical discrepancies.

3rd World - Favelas, ghettos, poverty, it is definitely intermixing with the first world city life. It’s not developed like it is in the other continents we’ve been. You never know what’s going to happen when you turn the corner, or what you’ll see. Crazy crackheads, or cobblestone mansions, Sampa has it all.

Culture- The city has so many things to do it has our heads spinning. Luckily our friend at work, Rafa, gave us a great itinerary for the weekend, and we got a taste of the city. We hit up museums, city parks (which are actually like mini rainforests), Japan Town, and the old Central Mercado.

Friendly Paulistanos- The people here are so nice! They have great energy, and always smiling. They are patient with us when we attempt to communicate, even if it’s only sign language.

Crime- Tons of it! Its super dangerous around here*! As soon as we got off the plane, people couldn’t shut up about how we need to be careful about getting mugged on the street.

*So we are taking every precaution possible. I’m talking pepper spray, money belt, rape whistle, taser gun… you name it, we got it. Ok, maybe not the taser, but you get the point, we are watching our backs. I am even carrying around a decoy wallet. It's filled with random CVS cards, old student IDs, and a few small brazilian dollar bills, so that if anyone comes up to me, I hand over the fake and get the hell outta there.

Yeah, its rough, but we knew this going in. And you know what, not every place is a wonderful carefree-haven like the US of A. Some places you have to get a little down and dirty with the locals. Makes us appreciate our homeland seCUURRity even more!

Here are some pictures from the first few days in Sampa.

Note: the pictures might seem a little off, and a little less spectacular than the last few places we’ve been. Its because we have to be discreet and sneaky when taking pictures so that we don’t scream tourist, and draw anymore attention to ourselves. I even put an ugly piece of ducktape over my camera so it looks like garbage.

Ciao Sydney, Oi Brazil

Oi, Sao Paulo.

Different day a different hemisphere, you know the usual routine for AdverBarbie. It was like déjà vu meeting up with Alicia again at the airport, except this time we’re off to probably the biggest challenge thus far: Sao Paulo.

Here are some quick facts for all of you who are wondering what we are doing down here:

27 Million People
3,000 Square Miles
3rd Largest city in the world.
Expected to be 6th richest city in the world by 2025 (currently its 10th)
Has a monsoon influenced subtropical climate.
They speak Portuguese (not Spanish) and definitely NO English.
Nickname of Sao Paulo is “Sampa.” How cute.

No housing hunt this time. Ogilvy set us up in a big "penthouse" apartment, which has 3 balconies, a rooftop patio, and stunning panoramic views. Also the complex has a nice pool, hot tub, and gym in the complex. Yay! We are settled in now, matching comforters and all, and doing fabulous. Decker, the other MAS intern, calls it our Barbie Mansion :)


Ciao Sydney!

Here it is, the final blog post in memoriam of our wonderful quarter away in Sydney, Australia. We will surely miss beautiful beaches, posh Surry Hills, the amazing people we met at iris, and of course the Australian accent. I’ll never forget watching the morning news and weather report, (which shows a map of Australia) and thinking “Damn, am I far from home!” every single time.

Our last week, we gave a presentation to the agency about Generation Y, since many of their clients target this audience. Iris was really impressed with our insights, especially about the BRIC’s (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) and their booming industry and prevalence in pop culture. We also talked about going green, technology, and how we find inspiration from the old movies, music and fashion. Of course with the presentation, we served up a big batch of vegan brownies with pink icing and organic green tea. Needless to say, everyone loved them and couldn’t even tell they were vegan. HA!

The last thing we did was visit the Botanic Gardens; a lush tropical menagerie of plants, trees, and flowers that border Sydney Harbour and downtown. Since the flora and fauna is so diverse, the garden is home to thousands of bats, which hang upside down from trees, making this painful squawking sound all day long. The garden was our last item to be crossed off the “Top 10 Sydney” guidebook list. We ended completing 8 out of the 10 total! In Amsterdam we did 7 of the top 10… so that’s an improvement in our book.

All in all we were extremely sad to go. We cleaned our god-awful apartment for the last time, and rolled a combined 340lbs of luggage out to the street corner and haven’t looked back since. Get ready for even more exciting and shocking blog posts as we take on Sao Paulo, Brazil for the next stop on the AdverBarbie World Tour.
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