Environmental perception of the inhabitants of São Vicente city of solid waste in Gonzaguinha Beach, São Paulo, Brazil

Environmental perception of the inhabitants of São Vicente city of solid waste in Gonzaguinha Beach, São Paulo, Brazil

2013 / Brazil

Environmental perception of the inhabitants of São Vicente city of solid waste in Gonzaguinha Beach, São Paulo, Brazil

Note: Article in Portuguese. Only the abstract is in English.


Environmental perception of the inhabitants of São Vicente city of solid 
waste in Gonzaguinha Beach, São Paulo, Brazil
Luna Guimarães Fernandes, Davis Gruber Sansolo
Journal of Integrated Coastal Zone Management 13(3):379-389 (2013)
DOI: 10.5894/rgci416

The importance of the coastal zone is remarkable approximately 22% of 
the population lives in coastal municipalities. Marine and coastal 
pollution has been widely studied because it is an environmental, 
economic and public health issue. Solid waste is part of coastal 
pollution and when its destination is inadequate it can transmit 
infectious diseases and impact marines and coastal ecosystems and affect 
the landscape. Tourism is economically important to the city of São 
Vicente so that in high season the population increases as well as waste 
production. The landscape alterations also changes the environmental 
perception, which study may be useful for guiding public policies 
according to the needs and collective preferences. The aim of this study 
was to analyze the environmental awareness of workers and visitors of 
the Gonzaguinha beach in São Vicente (São Paulo) concerning solid waste 
using the method of interviews. We interviewed 40 people, including 20 
workers and 20 visitors in the study area. The concept of “environment” 
was associated, mainly, to the preservation of nature instead really try 
to define what it is. The responses probably has contained environmental 
simbolism and described the study area under a problematic view and with 
necessity of environmental protection. Producers of solid waste were 
identified as the Vincentian population itself. Although the majority 
consider the situation of waste at the site to be “serious”, the 
responsibility for the proper disposal of this waste was attributed 
primarily to the government. The identification of packaging and food 
waste suggests that the source of pollution is the incorrect disposal of 
products consumed by beach goers. Respondents appear to be aware of the 
health hazards posed by pollution and pointed other problems such as 
feces and abandoned animals. They also gave suggestions of government 
actions like put sorted recycling bins in the beach and give plastic 
bags to tourists. Some workers says that they already give these bags to 
the clients. Only twelve respondents mentioned recycling in some of the 
responses, they were six workers and six visitors, and yet they did not 
included separation of materials in individual waste management actions. 
There was no mention of the concept of sustainability nor reducing 
consumerism as a solution. The results pointed a negative perception by 
interviewees about the environment of Gonzaguinha beach. The feeling of 
topophobia identified by feeling repulsion for a polluted environment, 
can affect tourism. In one testimonial, the municipal government worry 
about tourism becomes evident, as it distributes plastic bags at the 
beaches only in summer, the high season. Out of 40 people, 21 have 
pointed that the population is responsible for the proper disposal of 
waste, suggesting that the others do not feel responsible for dealing 
with the waste produced. The proactive behaviour in other responses may 
be evidence for the expression of social norms in which concerns about 
pollution includes moral force. The context of an interview with 
scientific ends about environment and pollution could determine 
optimistic responses about the conservation and in a position of nature 
defense. The population seems comprehend the importance of waste 
management and the individuals attitudes. Still, the combination of 
individual initiatives presented in this work and public policies to be 
implemented by the government can result in an efficient strategy of 
landscape maintenance by reducing the amount of pollutant residues. The 
workers are key actors in a combined management strategy with the 
government, whereas they are the most interested in a environment and, 
consequently, in a satisfied public. The trend of increase urbanization 
take cities to plan new solutions to the environmental problems in the 
process of public policies formulation, like dividing the 
responsibilities into society with the objectives of improve the human 
development and protect the coastal resources. Studies of environmental 
perception about these problems indicate if citizens are inclined to get 
involved in big decisions and take responsibilities. The attribution of 
responsibilities to themselves in the waste production and environment 
maintance emphasize that people apparently are inclined to contribute 
with management, although some responses describes insecurity about 
doing it alone. The conjunct action is necessary even in respondents 
view, considering that efficient governance consists in participation of 
citizens and government and they must be prepare to work to solve 
collective problems.

Keywords: Coastal zone, beach, preferably collective, coastal pollution, 


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