Surfers Without Borders: Catching and Cleaning Waves Throughout Central America


Co-Founder Aubrey Faulk catches a wave in El Salvador. Image via: Surfers Without Borders.

Dream of someday throwing your boards in the back of your truck and heading south for a week of perfect waves, cheap local food and sleeping under the stars? Well you can, and help build sustainability projects in the communities that you meet, when you travel with Surfers Without Borders.When they're not catching some serious waves in places like El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, the coordinators of Surfers Without Borders are installing permaculture systems, like composting toilets, water filtrations systems, organic gardens, and other programs to improve livelihoods and water security. They are also getting involved in cleaning up what unfortunately other surfers leave behind. While it's not all due to vagabond, traveling surfers, the coastlines are littered with debris, especially plastic bottles, and Surfers Without Borders is determined to turn the tide on this situation by cleaning up many of these coastlines.


River Esquintla Covered in Plastic. Note the man on the right. Image via: Surfers Without Borders.

Started by Aubrey Faulk (artist and surfer) and Loren Luyendyk (owner of Santa Barbara Organics), the two are spreading the good word about organic farming and surfing. Anyone can join them on their trips, and anyone can donate to their cause. Along the way they have met up with pro-surfers, local government officials and good samaritans interested in helping out and getting involved. They also got seed money from Keen and Patagonia and thus far the thing seems to be snowballing, or should we say rolling along like a wave.

One program they started involves getting kids to design juice bottles and then refill them with purified water to resell for a few pesos. Local surfers were encouraged to use these companies as this program charges 1/2 what a store would for new, bottled water. To encourage participation in programs for example, kids receive surf and art prizes for playing "Pick Up" trash on the beach.

A third great project includes building water filtration "slow sand filter" tanks, perfect because oftentimes remote villages do not have access to clean water. The tanks simply use a mix of charcoal, sand, rocks and gravel and this is enough to get 99% of contaminants out, including giardia and cryptosporidium.

Someday they hope to take off down the coast, ditching their cars and the carbon and just biking and kayaking from town to town as they surf and garden. For now they figure they have a van that gets them by and carries their supplies wherever they need. A quick peek at their blog and you find out that they find green wherever they go - from the neighbor with the organic garden to the friend who makes and sells sandals out of recycled tires. At the same time they are also passing out a booklet Introduction to Permaculture to everyone they meet.

To find out where they've been or see where they're headed next, check out their blog online, which is full of trip details and great pics of both gardens and waves. Surfers Without Borders is registering for their 501c3 non-profit status and part of the Ocean Foundation. :Surfers Without Borders/Surfistas Sin Fronteras
More on the Green Surfing Lifestyle
Be a Greener Surfer
Recycle Your Broken Surfboard, Get the World's First Recycled Board
project BLUE Brings Competitors Together To Save the Oceans
Surf eCo School Saves Rainforest

Tags: Beaches | Bottled Water | Developing Nations | Drinking Water | Oceans | Tourism | Water Conservation

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