Realizing Surf Dreams, Respect for the Ocean and Surfing Plastic Bottles

© reuters / Enrique Castro-Mendivil 

– Originally posted on #LivingCircular – 

We knew we could make all kinds of things from the waste that pollutes our beaches and oceans – but in Peru, some people are even surfing on plastic bottles!

Carlos Pino grew up in one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods of Chorrillos, a district in the south of Lima, Peru. As a little boy he watched the ocean from his house, dreaming about learning to surf. But sadly, as a child from a very poor family, there was no question of buying a surfboard.

Every year, says the NGO Vida, 300 tons of waste are collected on the Peruvian coast.

Now aged 41, Carlos gives children the opportunity to realize this dream and at the same time teaches respect for the ocean – a value transmitted to him by his father, who was a lifeguard. Lukas – his shaper nickname – manufactures surfboards from plastic bottles collected on the beaches of the Peruvian capital. The bottles are collected during the major beach cleaning operations organized by LOOP (Life Out Of Plastic), which specializes in fighting plastic pollution.

It takes about 51 bottles and less than a day to make one board. Firstly, Carlos fills them with dry ice so they don’t distort, then assembles them before adding a thin layer of fiberglass and the center board. Unlike traditional boards, made mainly from resin and fiberglass, Carlos’ boards are both cheap and eco-friendly. Proud of his achievement, he says it gives him great joy to be able to pass on his love of surfing and respect for the sea to children who would otherwise not be able to enjoy the sport.

Carlos’ boards are donated to the Alto Perú association which provides sports lessons for young people from the inner city. The founder of this NGO, Diego Villarán, is one of Carlos’ childhood friends. He suggested making surfboards using recycled plastic after hearing about the Brazilian “green board” initiative (Prancha ecologica).

The first “eco-surf” sessions began in late February 2014 on the La Estrella beach in Miraflores (Spanish), a district of Lima. The city hopes it will inspire other seaside towns to follow suit. In a country where 300 tons of waste are collected from the beaches every year, Carlos Pino’s eco-friendly surf boards are excellent news for the ocean!

Find out more:

– The Alto Perú NGO website (Spanish)
– The Life Out Of Plastic website
– The Brazilian project “Prancha ecologica”

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