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Driving the Renault ZOE ZEN to
a HAPPY ENDING
or: How to save 10,000 euros in petrol over five years

Ten years ago, I decided to get rid of all machines, motors and engines that were powered by fossil fuels. At the time, I was driving an old petrol-guzzling Renault Kangoo and felt a pang of conscience each time I ate a piece of meat. Some of my colleagues were buying new cars at that point. Thinking about what I could do with my money, I decided to become independent, to liberate myself from the constraints of a society running on fossil fuels. I made a fundamental decision and didn’t buy a new car. Instead, I simply carried on driving …

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A conversation in the countryside

The hands of the clock have not yet reached five o’clock on this beautiful summer day that is slowly awakening from its slumber. The information arrives. I am going to meet with a group of citizens who have decided to put an end to monocultures. So, I get out of bed at four in the morning and get dressed. I arrive at a crossroads in no man’s land. I had parked my car in a safe place some time before, and so I walked the rest of the way. At some point, I turned off the tarmac road onto a …

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It’s difficult to know where I feel at home

Lourdes Picareta | Film-maker Lourdes Picareta was born 58 years ago in Santa Iría, in the heart of the Alentejo. She completed her schooling in Almada. She speaks Portuguese, German, French, Spanish, English and Greek. Two years after the 25 April Revolution, she moved to Germany to study history, art and German philology in Mainz and Munich. Afterwards, she started to become interested in journalism and joined German television, where she still works for several broadcasting institutions at the ARD. Every year, she makes three or four long documentary films, many of which are also broadcast by the French-German channel …

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What forest is this?

Like sap, we rise up through the four layers of a forest. We progress from the bureaucrats in state institutions to experts who are passionate about the forest. Let’s move from the Dantesque vision of the current ‘eucalyptugal’ to the landscape of the lush forest that is to come.   The ground layer It’s called Quinta da Fonteireira, in Belas, and it is a rare green lung in the suburbs along the Sintra railway line. Between the ages of eight and eighteen, I slept more than a hundred nights there, in Vale Escuro. At that time, when I was in …

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Dumpster Diving

Where? Lisbon, 7pm. Pling! A WhatsApp message: ‘You’re coming shopping tonight?’ ‘Shopping’ is code here for the ‘respiga’, Dumpster Diving. Wikipedia has it nailed down: ‘Dumpster diving (also ‘skipping’) is salvaging unused items discarded by their owners… from… waste containers.’ So, what does this look like in real life? At 8pm, we are waiting, with backpacks, head torch and rubber gloves at the ready, opposite our trusted organic supermarket. Half an hour later, we hear the comforting rumble of the wheelie bins, then wait till they are all lined up and the security guards are on their way. ‘Boa noite, …

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Is Eucalyptus Invasive?

Not everyone places economic growth at number one on their aspirational wish list. The area behind A’s house marks the beginning of a forest. If truth be told, A is living with B, his wife, inside the forest. On his plot of land, measuring one hectare, you’ll find over 500 trees of all kinds: umbrella pines, cork oaks, strawberry trees, willows, alders and ash, bay trees, birches and beeches, olive trees, cedars, chestnuts, and all kinds of fruit trees. Every tree, he says, has its own place, its own home. To him, the forest is the last paradise remaining to …

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Zero waste

INTERVIEW with Paula Policarpo, the president of Zero Desperdício (www.zerodesperdicio.pt), The Zero Waste project won first prize at the European Enterprise Promotion Awards (EEPA) 2020, in the category ‘Support to ecological market development and resources efficiency’. How do you see Portugal in the context of food waste in Europe? It’s estimated that every year about a million tons of food are thrown away. That is equivalent to wasting 50,000 meals a day, enough to cover the needs of the 360,000 Portuguese finding themselves in a situation of food poverty. I think that the biggest problem in Portugal is the lack of …

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A life of milk and honey

Forest gardening is the first sustainable form of multicultural agroforestry management in the history of humankind. Since prehistoric times, a form of forest gardening has been practised in the tropics (Mesopotamia), with forest cultures creating small clearings in order to replace the plant species that would provide the food, fibre and medicines for their communities.   Coming back to modern times, in the 1980s, an English horticulturalist, Robert Hart, adapted the age-old agroforestry techniques applied in a temperate climate and created the first temperate forest garden on 500 square metres of his farm in Shropshire, 120 km south of Liverpool. …

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The House is Falling Down
The trial against EDP Distribuição Energia SA has started

828 days have passed since the last great forest fire in the Monchique mountains. Now, in mid-November 2020, the judiciary is finally moving. Dare I say, a snail is approaching the finishing line? The third branch of power of the State is independent. In the dock, we have EDP Distribuição Energia SA, the company caught up in the tangled web of the former monopolist, which seems to be completely overwhelmed by its task. It transports electricity via transmission lines from the energy provider to the customers and end-users. The latter are starting to abandon EDP Comercial – now SU Electricidade …

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Forests, our Natural Heritage

Inspired by  https://florestautoctone.webnode.pt/ When I cast my mind back to the beginning of my time on earth, I remember my first visit to a forest, where the crowns of the trees provided shade for the soft soil underfoot. Huge, age-old and very strong trees, mostly beeches, oaks and pines. There were scattered birches and ash trees, trees that were both small and large, living together in their own universe. We would play hide-and-seek in the woods. There were caves and rock formations, many of which were overgrown with moss. It was always reassuringly cool, always a little damp, and occasionally …

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