It’s not an easy time to be an outspoken environmental activist in Brazil, yet Fe Cortez has managed to make it seem not only effortless but also chic. As the founder of Menos Um Lixo, a reusable cup company, she’s gotten her colorful collapsible products into the hands of influential Brazilians around the country – and, by way of that, her mindset.
“We are still measured by what we have and not by who we are,” she says. “So, that’s for me the bottom of our problem. We value what’s disposable.”
In collaboration with organizations including the United Nations and Greenpeace, Cortez uses her brand to reach people who, like her own family, might not be aware of the scale of dangers of climate change. But Cortez’s way of re-education is not just about reaching people to push facts down their throats. Rather, she takes a more foundational approach, urging people to think deeply about what words like “trash” and “resources” mean, and how they affect everyday decision-making that involves use of the planet.
But, while her passion is ineffable, she maintains an impressively clear head. When asked about doing her work under the umbrella of President Jair Bolsonaro, she answers coolly: “A country alone cannot decide if they want or don’t want to follow a climate change agenda, because it’s a human agenda, not a country agenda anymore.”